Nov. 3-20—WHITE RIVER JUNCTION—Jarvis Antonio Green is leading a cast of Broadway veterans and emerging New York theater artists in the Vermont premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s timely play, “Choir Boy.” A joint presentation between ArtisTree and Green’s new theatre company JAG Productions, “Choir Boy” is an “exceptionally beautiful, heart-pummeling piece of theater” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) about two young black men competing over the lead spot in their elite prep school’s choir, and will run from Nov. 3 – 20 at Briggs Opera House in White River Junction.
Featuring soaring a cappella gospel arrangements and an expressive book, “Choir Boy” offers new perspective on the traditional coming-of-age story. The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys is celebrating its 50th year of creating strong, ethical black men. The pressure is high for the school’s famed chorus, led by senior Pharus Young. Pharus struggles to carve his own path as a young gay black man on scholarship and clashes with Bobby, a legacy student and nephew of the headmaster. Their battle for control of the choir leads to discoveries of faith, identity, sexuality, and friendship. This “vivid, magnetic and moving” (New York Times) play “genuinely sizzles” (Guardian) and “sings a stirring tune” (Washington Post).
“When I founded JAG Productions last year, I knew I wanted to use this platform to bring new, previously unheard African-American stories to our area,” says Director Jarvis Green. “There is an incredible community of artists and patrons here, who are hungry to hear new stories. I came to this play early this year, and working on it has been an experience that I haven’t felt in the theatre before, and I am so excited to bring it to the Upper Valley theatre community.”
“Choir Boy” features Bill Carmichael from Vergennes, Vt. (Broadway: “Mama Mia,” “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” and “Peter Pan”), Erick Pinnick (Broadway: “A Christmas Carol”), and newcomers Alex Grayson, Claxton Rabb, Wesley Barnes, Will T. Travis and John Henry Carter.
Joining the creative team is Music Director Darius Smith, who received rave reviews on productions of “Choir Boy” at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Marin Theatre Company in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Performances will be held Nov. 3-20, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; matinees on Saturdays at 2 p.m.; and at 5 p.m. on Sundays. Previews will be shown Nov. 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Nov. 5, with a reception following the performance. Nov. 9 and 16 will be additional student matinees at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 will be a post-show discussion, “Black Masculinity and the Intersection of Religion and Sexuality,” led by Director Jarvis Antonio Green and featuring J. Michael Kinsey (Cornell University) and Rev. Bertram Johnson (Riverside Church in the City of New York). Nov. 18 will feature a talk back with the cast following the performance.
This production contains strong language and adult content. Please contact the box office with any questions about the suitability of this show for young audiences.
Briggs Opera House is located at 5 S. Main Street, White River Junction. General admission is $18 students, $30 adults, $20 previews. For more info or tickets, visit jagproductionsvt.com, artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500.
Photo courtesy of JAG Productions
The cast of “Choir Boy” stands along a wall, released after announcing its official lineup. The show opens in White River Junction Nov. 5, with performances through Nov. 20.