THEATER PIZZAZZ- Chior Boy – Joyous

Extremely talented Jeremy Pope as Pharus, is a golden voiced tenor whose bright eyes are always facing up to heaven and has much to say as he makes his way toward graduation as leader of the gospel choir at Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys. In this revival (Manhattan Theatre Club’s City Center Stage II -2013) of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s spirited and heart warming drama, currently at the Samuel J. Freidman Theatre, you’ll many times feel you’ve been warmly wrapped in the arms of the spirituals sung in gorgeous harmonies . . . from “Motherless Child” to “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” along with the school song “Trust and Obey” that opens and closes the show. It is this school song where we meet Pharus who is being taunted by Bobby (J. Quinton Johnson), the nephew of the pedantic Headmaster Marrow (Tony winner perfect Chuck Cooper), who continually interrupts his singing hissing out the N and F words.

Pharus is adept at staying alive and focused and armed with an endless array of wisecracks and comebacks to stave off his homophobic classmates and especially Bobby who is constantly maddened by Pharus’ gay demeanor. Having to answer to the Headmaster who feels both protective of his unruly nephew but wants to help Pharus because of his exquisite musical talent, presents on-going issues. It is these confrontations that also bring some real gut laughs throughout, i.e. Pharus’ remark “I’ve never missed a key of G since I was 3.” Luckily Pharus’ roommate AJ (John Clay III) is a loving, caring and accepting friend who provides solace when needed.

Jordan Lugenbeel