1. Tawanda Muzenda, Quinton Rofail Rich, Theo Williams, Darron Hayes, Zarif, Abu Kebe & Gareth Dutlow_Choir Boy
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  2. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  3. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  4. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  5. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  6. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  7. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  8. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  9. Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres
    Photograph: NTofP/Phil Erbacher
  • Theatre
  • Recommended


Choir Boy

5 out of 5 stars

The Australian premiere of Oscar-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney’s musical play transports you to lyrical highs while delivering a powerful punch to the gut


Time Out says

If you missed the rave Sydney season of Choir Boy, here's your shot. Australia's own choir boys are hitting the road and taking the critically acclaimed production to Wollongong Town Hall (a two-hour train ride or 1.5-hour drive from Sydney) from March 22 to 25 for a strictly limited run. You can snap up tickets over here and read our five-star review below:

It is no exaggeration to say that Choir Boy delivers in every single way. It comes with a Broadway pedigree and a visionary creative team including co-directors Dino Dimitriadis (Angels in America Parts I & II and Mary Zimmerman’s Metampohoses) and Zindzi Okenyo (Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner). Add to this a spellbinding score and script from the writer of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and a perfectly harmonised cast comprising professional debuts and seasoned thespians – the Australian premiere of Choir Boy at Riverside Theatres for Sydney WorldPride is an unmissable delight.

Set at the fictional Charles R Drew Prep School for Boys in New Jersey, the show follows the trials and tribulations of the school choir, led in a spirited and effortlessly charming performance by Darron Hayes (an American performer fresh from a US run of Choir Boy) as Pharus. Individually and collectively, the choir shines – starting with the the thoughtful casting, which amplifies each performer’s radiant and distinctive talent while also being reflective of Choir Boy’s themes of queerness, self-identity and underrepresented voices. Abu Kebe (Junior Davis) and Gareth Dutlow (swing) absolutely shine in their debut professional performances, alongside Tawanda Muzenda (swing), Quinton Rofail Rich (AJ James), Theo Williams (David Heard) and Zarif (Bobby Marrow). 

The thoughtful casting amplifies each performer’s radiant and distinctive talent

Their vocal performances – all a cappella style – are mesmerising, expertly guided by renowned musical director Allen René Louis from NYC. From jaunty musical theatre-style numbers to wistful ballads, even a comic rendition of a Boys2Men hit, and everything soulful and gospel in-between, the choir boys deliver pitch perfect entertainment. Dynamic choreography by Tarik Frimpong ties the musical performances together further, even in the tightly devised scene transitions. It’s refreshing to see transitions driven by the actors’ physical movements rather than relying on any moving sets.

The boys have a sacred safe space when they’re singing together, however, outside of practice, they are often divided by insidious bullying and aggression. McCraney’s script reveals how the explosive and seething anger of these young men is a powerful tool both in tearing each other down, and lifting each other up. The lines are drawn early on when Bobby, an entitled rich kid, makes homophobic and racial slurs towards Pharus. Throughout the play, characters experience their insecurities around queer sexual identity as well as class privilege in other more tense and repressed ways. For example, Bobby can be outspoken because of his family’s affluence, whereas other characters like David try to conform as rigidly as possible to maintain their scholarship grades. 

McCraney also provides a platform for the anger of those who bear witness to unjust treatment, and how this translates into impactful allyship. These moments are borne by the school’s staff, the strict but sensitive Headmaster Marrow (Robert Harrell); the retired teacher and sole white character Mr Pendleton (Tony Sheldon) who vehemently expresses his outrage at the use of a racial slur towards another student; as well as Pharus’s open-minded roommate, AJ, who speaks up for Pharus, infuriated by the incessant oppression he experiences at the hands of his classmates and family, due solely to his sexuality. 

Choir Boy gives a generous voice to the marginalised figures of queer black men in a stirring and multilayered script – issues which are close to the chest for many of the cast of creatives involved – brought to life in an unmissable Australian premiere. The uniting force of music weaves the uncertain, idiosyncratic voices of these young men into the tapestry of contemporary black history, where music and the church have always been safe spaces of healing and resistance. 

Not a musical, but rather a play with extraordinary songs, Choir Boy has a beauty in its own league that is rare to come by, and is a sure hit with audiences and critics alike. Watch this space. 

This production was reviewed at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, in March 2023. The production is touring seasons in Brisbane, Canberra and Wollongong. 

Want more? Check out the best theatre to see in Sydney during WorldPride.


From $55
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