Spiraling in the light, fog stealthily transforms schoolboys in their locker room into living sculptures, accompanied only by the insistent atonal plinking of dripping taps in the offstage shower. In the theater, moments like these ravish our senses and happily “Choir Boy” is filled with an arrestingly indelible array.
Since premiering off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Studio at Stage II in 2013, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play has been tightened and has evolved to include topical references — though some key cast members remain the same. Set at an exclusive all-boys prep school for African-Americans, The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys offers religious learning that rewards conformity to a hyper-masculine ideal of manhood (“…be and act as a Drew man should.”) This environment poses challenges for all the students, who are forming identities in the throes of adolescence, but especially to those who are homosexual. (Intimate relations between students are prohibited.) The school is renowned for its gospel choir and much of the play’s considerable tension revolves around entitlement to leadership of, and participation in that choir, which acts as a microcosm of the society awaiting the Drew graduates.