Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Choir Boy **
I wish I had not read the glowing reviews of Tarell Alvin McCraney's drama with music at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage II, because they set me up for disappointment. The a cappella singing of the actors portraying members of the gospel choir and the headmaster of an elite black prep school is gorgeous, but the drama into which the music is blended could use deeper character development and fewer subplots. Jeremy Pope is strong as the effeminate student choir leader who is as much bully as victim. Nicholas L. Ashe, Kyle Beltran, Grantham Coleman and John Stewart are all fine as the other students. Charles E. Wallace is admirable as the headmaster and Austin Pendleton is believable as the retired historian brought in to hone the boys' intellect (a la "History Boys"). The plot is often contrived and predictable. Jason Michael Webb made the fine vocal arrangements. David Zinn's set and costumes are excellent and Trip Cullman's direction is smooth. I might have enjoyed it more had I been expecting less. Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission.