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Choir Boy

April 15 – May 14, 2023
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

“The songs bring the house down.” –The Guardian

From the Academy Award-winning writer of Moonlight, comes this exhilarating story about Pharus, a young, queer student leading the renowned choir at his elite, all-boys prep school. Can a rigid institution that prides itself on producing “strong, ethical black men” contain Pharus, who is a quiet rebel at his core? Or can Pharus inspire the very nature of the school to shift forever? Identity and community clash in this Tony-nominated hit. Filled with rousing music and soul-stirring dance, this play explores all that it means to march to your own drum.

Congrats to Choir Boy costume designer Dominique Fawn Hill on her Tony nomination for Fat Ham! See her work on stage at PCS before Choir Boy closes May 14!

“Filled with beautifully sung a cappella hymns ... [Choir Boy] shows us how the arts can strengthen our sense of self and unite us, not just in spite of our differences but in celebration of them.” –The Globe & Mail

Choir Boy

  • By Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • Directed by Chip Miller
Preview image for Queerness & Christianity

Queerness & Christianity

There are several key Bible scriptures that have been interpreted as anti-gay and are used as the basis for the rhetoric that homosexuality is a sin. It should be noted that all of these interpretations are also resting on translation from the original languages that the Bible was written in. This features takes a deeper look into the history between Queerness & Christianity.  

Vintage photo of a group of Black men and women seated and standing, wearing late 19th-century clothing.

The Songs That Held Us Up

The music in Choir Boy, which could be categorized as Negro spirituals and folk songs, marries enduring legacies and living history, passed through the oral tradition of Africans in America. The power of this legacy cannot be overstated.

Preview image for *Choir Boy* Reading List

Choir Boy Reading List

Calling all readers! Multnomah County Library put together a reading list inspired by our production of Choir Boy.

Cb Meetn Greet 1200X628 03
Members of the cast and creative team of "Choir Boy" at Portland Center Stage; photo by Tamera Lyn.

Luther Brooks IV*

Bobby Marrow

Delphon "DJ" Curtis Jr.*

David Heard

Kevin C. Loomis*

Mr. Pendleton

Don Kenneth Mason*

Headmaster Marrow

Gerrin Delane Mitchell*

Junior Davis

Wildlin Pierrevil*

Anthony Justin "AJ" James

Isaiah Reynolds*

Pharus Jonathan Young

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Tarell Alvin McCraney

Playwright

Chip Miller

Director

DeReau K. Farrar

Music Director

Brittany Vasta

Scenic Designer

Dominique Fawn Hill

Costume Designer

Marika Kent

Lighting Designer

Ash

Sound Designer

Kamilah Bush

Dramaturg

Amanda Vander-Hyde

Intimacy Coordinator

Kristen Mun-Van Noy

Fight Coordinator

Haille Lantz*

Stage Manager & Fight Captain

Jasmyn Tilford*

Assistant Stage Manager & Music Captain

Alagia Felix

Assistant Director

Luther Brooks IV*

Dance Captain

Chip Miller & RaChelle Schmidt

Casting

Andrea Zee

New York Casting

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

The Director is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.

 The Scenic, Costume, Lighting, and Sound Designers in LORT theaters are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829 of the IATSE.

Jenna Cady, Assistant Costume Designer 

Foggy M. Bell, Stitcher

Vanessa Elsner, Costume Maintenance

Kyle Cogan, A1

Angelita Sophina Flores, Assistant Lighting Designer

Roy Joshua Antonio, Conor Eifler, Jesse Harkin, Zachary Horn, Steph Landtiser, Dug Martell, Kelli McCloskey, Esther McFaden, Paul Rhoads, Myke Rodriguez, Megan Thorpe, Laurel Jane Vonderau, Connor Ward, Electricians 

Luther Brooks IV, Bobby Marrow & Dance Captain
(He/Him)

Luther is proudly Louisiana born and bred, and he is overjoyed to be a part of the cast of Choir Boy (NSULA 2021). Credits include the National Tour of Annie. Regional: Music Man, In the Heights, Sister Act, Mamma Mia! He would like to first thank God, his family, and all of his friends that have supported him along the way. What's for you, won't miss you! IG: @iamlutherbrooks

(Pronoun Fluid)

DJ is so grateful to return to Portland Center Stage for this piece. Most recently seen as Tom Collins in Rent, they were also in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as the titular role, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He graduated from William Peace University with a B.F.A. in musical theater. DJ has performed in productions across the country, including on several occasions with North Carolina Symphony through the Manning Chamber Music Series. Favorite credits include David Lee’s adaptation of Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot with The Old Creamery Theatre Company and Great Plains Theatre, Ruined at Burning Coal Theatre Company, and, most recently, Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show at Four Corners Musical Theatre Company. Local credits: A Christmas Carol and Crowns at Portland Playhouse, and Mlima's Tale with Profile Theatre.

Kevin C. Loomis, Mr. Pendelton
(He/Him)

Kevin is delighted to make his PCS debut. Especially under the direction of the wonderful Chip Miller. Kevin moved back to his home state (he was a Corvallis boy) after success on Broadway (Inherit the Wind and the infamous Spider-Man), Off-Broadway, national tours, regional theater, TV, film, commercials, and voiceovers. He was lucky to have worked with such luminaries as Julie Taymor, Jerry Zaks, and Doug Hughes; Tony winners all. Some of his favorite roles have been Darcelle in That’s No Lady, JJ in Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark, Max in one of the first regional productions of The Producers, Capulet in R and J, Falstaff in Merry Wives and Henry 4, Part 2. Kevin also teaches at Bridgetown Conservatory, founded by the incredible artist Rick Lewis. He is happy to be back in his beloved Northwest. In his off time, Kevin is an extensive traveler, a passionate chef, and quite a seasoned gadabout. For Mom.

Don Kenneth Mason, Headmaster Marrow

Don is incredibly grateful to return to PCS in their production of Choir Boy, having appeared earlier this season in the ripple, the wave that carried me home. Don dedicates this performance to everyone who has ever tried to leave life before it was their time. Thank you Mark, Lilly, Amy, Carey, Maureen, Philip, Veronika, Reuben, Christina, Dave, and Bryan for helping me live to see another day. Proud Member of Actors' Equity since 2011.

(He/Him)

Gerrin is eternally grateful to return to the PCS main stage! He is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma and Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. Some favorite Portland roles include Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland with NWCT, Ladahlord in James and the Giant Peach, Fly Guy in Fly Guy: The Musical, Mr. Pinkerton in Pinkalicious with OCT, Actor 5 in Bootycandy with Fuse Theatre, JAW 2014 and 2021 and M.C. in Dreamgirls with PCS, Miles/Shawn/Rashad in Gloria with Profile Theatre, Bakkhai in The Bakkhai, Hunter 3/Freedom Fund Lady in Fucking A with Shaking The Tree, Mowgli in The Jungle Book with Broadway Rose, The Americans devised with PETE, Butcher in Beef: A Butcher Shop Circus, Ruby Rider in The Cowboy Show, Portland Rose Festival City Fair 2023 with Prismagic Events. RACC Grant recipient producing his one-man performance at N.E.W., September 2023. Find out more about future projects online. IG: @delanegerrin

Wildlin Pierrevil , Anthony Justin "AJ" James
(He/They)

Wildlin is a Haitian-American creative born in Florida and based in New York. As a writer, comedian, commentator, and content producer, he’s amassed a digital following of going on 400k across social platforms as @NotWildlin. Insatiable and always online, Wildlin’s most recently been collaborating with the NYCLU as an artist ambassador where he’s been able to activate his creativity in conjunction with his passion for social justice.

Isaiah Reynolds, Pharus Jonathan Young

Isaiah is so excited to be making his Portland Center Stage debut and would like to thank the team for giving him this amazing opportunity. Isaiah has had the privilege of working across the country in multiple theater productions. Some favorite credits include: Choir Boy (Speakeasy Stage), Five Guys Named Moe (The Fulton Theater), and Hairspray (Theater Aspen). He is a proud Boston Conservatory graduate. He would like to thank his team at DGRW, and his family and friends for their love and support. @Isaiahreynolds55

Tarell is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays: The Brothers Size, In The Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; or The Secret Of Sweet. They have been performed at McCarter Theater in Princeton, The Public Theater in New York, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, at a trio of theaters in the Bay Area: Marin Theatre Company, ACT, and Magic Theatre, as well as the Young Vic in London (Olivier Award nomination) and around the world. Other plays include The Breach (Southern Rep), Wig Out! (Sundance Theatre Institute, Royal Court, and Vineyard Theatre — GLAAD Award for Outstanding Play), and American Trade (Royal Shakespeare Company and Hampstead Theatre). Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where he is an ensemble member, produced the world premiere of his commissioned play, Head Of Passes. Tarell was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s International Playwright in Residence in 2008-2010, where he co-edited and directed the Young People's Shakespeare production of Hamlet which toured throughout the UK and was presented at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. He is the recipient of the prestigious Whiting Award and Steinberg Playwright Award, as well as London's Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, the inaugural New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, and the inaugural Paula Vogel Playwriting Award. He is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts High School, the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, and the Yale School of Drama. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects in Miami.

Chip Miller, Director
(They/Them)

Chip is a director and producer, currently in the role of associate artistic director at Portland Center Stage. They were previously the artistic associate/resident director at KCRep. Directing: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Rent, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the world premiere of Redwood by Brittany K. Allen (Portland Center Stage), Larry Owens’ Sondheimia (Carnegie Hall, Pasadena Playhouse), Journeys to Justice (Portland Opera), the world premiere of American Fast by Kareem Fahmy (Artists Repertory Theater), School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, Welcome to Fear City, Sex with Strangers, A Raisin in the Sun (KCRep); the world premiere of Becoming Martin by Kevin Willmott (The Coterie); dwb: driving while black (Lawrence Arts Center, Baruch Performing Arts Center); 4:48 Psychosis (The Buffalo Room). Chip has developed work with playwrights including Kevin Wilmott, Kara Lee Corthron, Brittany K. Allen, Catherine Trieschmann, Darren Canady, Andrew Rosendorf, Susan Kander and Roberta Gumbel, Michelle T. Johnson, and Michael Finke. They have developed work at The William Inge Theatre Festival, NYU’s New Plays for Young Audiences, La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA Series, Portland Center Stage’s JAW New Play Festival, The Midwest Dramatists Center, KCRep’s OriginKC New Works Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, The Living Room Theatre, and Musical Theatre Heritage.

DeReau K. Farrar, Music Director

DeReau is the director of music at First Unitarian Church of Portland, artistic director for Portland's queer and allied youth choir, Bridging Voices, and president of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries. Additionally, he sings with Resonance Ensemble and served on its Artistic Advisory Team for the 2022 premiere of Damien Geter's An African American Requiem with the Oregon Symphony. DeReau was the musical director for the 2022 Portland Revels spring production of Un Pajarito Canto and, prior to moving to Portland in 2016, was a music director in Los Angeles, where he worked with A Noise Within (The Threepenny Opera, A Christmas Carol), DC6 Singers (SxSW, Jessye Norman’s Stand Up Straight and Sing! Tour, Sundance, Norman Lear, Jerry Kohl), Monkeypaw Productions (Get Out), HBO (All the Way), Selah Gospel Choir (Coachella, RuPaul’s DragCon), University of California Los Angeles (The First Lady), California State University Los Angeles (A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum), The Verdi Chorus, The RED Stamp (The Wiz, Ragtime, Songs for a New World), MUSE/IQUE Symphony Orchestra, and others.

Brittany Vasta, Scenic Designer
(She/Her)

Brittany is a Brooklyn-based scenic designer for live performances. Recent NYC work includes Fucking A (Fordham); Cardboard Piano (The Juilliard School); Octet (Berkeley Rep Theatre); Rinse, Repeat (Signature Theatre); Life Sucks (Theatre Row); Bill Irwin’s Harlequin & Pantalone (NY City Center); Happy Birthday Wanda June (The Duke); I thought I would die but I didn’t (The Tank); Sehnsucht (JACK). Regional work includes Gypsy (Theatre Aspen); the ripple, the wave that carried me home and Redwood (Portland Center Stage); Welcome to Fear City (KCRep); August: Osage County (Resident Ensemble Players, University of Delaware); My Name is Asher Lev (Portland Stage Company); Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ). Recent associate design: Chicken and Biscuits (Broadway, Circle in the Square); The Green (Lincoln Center public art installation); The Lifespan of a Fact (Broadway, Studio 54); Fairview (Soho Rep). Drama Desk nomination for the set design of Octet. M.F.A., NYU. USA 829.

Dominique Fawn Hill, Costume Designer
(She/Her)

Broadway: Fat Ham. Regional: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rent (Portland Center Stage); Dark Girl Chronicles: CHRONICLE X (The Shed); 125th & FREEdom (National Black Theatre); Fat Ham (The Public Theater and The National Black Theatre); Tambo & Bones (Playwrights Horizons and CTG); Where the Mountain Meets the Sea (MTC). Awards and nominations: Lucille Lortel Award nominee, Obie Award, and the USITT/USA Prague Quadrennial Best Costume Design Award. dominiquefhill.com

Marika Kent, Lighting Desinger
(She/Her)

Marika is a Brooklyn-based lighting designer. Also with PCS: Gem of the Ocean, School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play. Other recent/upcoming: Amani (National Black Theater); Bernarda’s Daughters (The New Group/NBT); Ulysses, Seagull (Elevator Repair Service); Catch as Catch Can (Playwrights Horizons); Measure for Measure (Shakespeare & Company); Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me (The Wooster Group); Generation Rise, Generation NYZ (Ping Chong + Co), Jazz Singer (Abrons Arts Center). Marika teaches at Playwrights Horizons Theater School (NYU) and is a member of USA Local 829. marikakent.com

Ash, Sound Designer
(They/She)

Ash is an active composer, arranger, songwriter, sound designer, and music director for choir and theater. Their theatrical credits include productions with SpeakEasy Stage, Portland Center Stage (tick, tick … BOOM!, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Macbeth), Oregon Children’s Theatre, Corrib Theatre, Jewish Theatre Collaborative, Milagro Theatre (where they won a Drammy Award in 2015 for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music for ¡O Romeo!), Post5 Theatre, and Portland Actor’s Ensemble (where they won an Outdoor Shakespeare Festival Award in 2012 for Best Sound Design for Twelfth Night). Ash is the former artistic director of Transpose PDX, a non-profit choral arts organization serving the trans, non-binary, and GNC community. musicbyash.com

Kamilah Bush, Dramaturg
(She/Her)

Kamilah is a playwright, dramaturg, and educator originally from North Carolina. She holds a B.F.A. in theater education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was an NC teaching fellow. Kamilah has spent several seasons at celebrated regional theaters across the country, including Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, FL, and Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Her play Nick & The Prizefighter was a semifinalist for the 2022 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, the 2021 Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, and it won the 2021 Urbanite Theater Modern Works Festival.

Amanda Vander Hyde, Intimacy Coordinator

Amanda graduated from Western Oregon University in 2018 with a B.F.A. in technical production. She is a freelance intimacy choreographer in the Portland area. She has worked as an intimacy professional on many pieces in the past season at Portland Center Stage, including Rent and Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – Apt. 2B. She works as the resident intimacy choreographer at Valley Shakespeare Company and has worked in various spaces as an intimacy coach to young professionals. Currently, she is also the production manager of MediaRites Productions, one of the stage managers in rep at Oregon Children's Theatre, and on the stage management team at Portland Center Stage for their 2022-2023 season. In her ample spare time, she is also a friend, a wife, and a cat mom.

Kristen Mun-Van Noy, Fight Coordinator
(She/Her)

Kristen was born and raised on the island of Oahu where she started her theatrical stage combat training. She has been working as a fight choreographer and teacher in the city of Portland, OR, for more than 10 years. She owes her training to Dueling Arts International and her time as an assistant fight choreographer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2009-2010) with resident Fight Director U. Jonathan Toppo. She has received multiple awards for Best Fight Choreography from the Portland Drammys.

Haille Lantz, Stage Manager & Fight Captain
(She/Her)

Haille is thrilled to be joining Portland Center Stage as the stage manager for Choir Boy. She grew up in the Portland area and credits PCS for fostering her lifelong love of theater through their education programs. Previous work at PCS includes the ripple, the wave that carried me home (production assistant), It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (production assistant), and time serving as the interim production coordinator. She is a proud Oregon State University graduate and she thanks the faculty for their continued support in post-graduate life. She would like to thank the PCS production team for their unwavering support. She sends love to her family, friends, and her partner, Kane, for listening to her type away at emails and always supporting her in all of her endeavors in theater and out.

Jasmyn Tilford, Assistant Stage Manager & Music Captain
(She/Her)

Jasmyn is a multidisciplinary artist. She holds a B.F.A. in theater with a concentration in theater administration from Howard University. This is Jasmyn’s first production with PCS, and she is elated. Jasmyn was previously an apprentice at Portland Playhouse. Previous stage manager apprentice credits include Barbecue and Titus Andronicus (Portland Playhouse). Other stage manager credits include A Christmas Carol (Portland Playhouse). As an actor, you may have most recently seen her in Third Rail's production of I’m Black When I’m Singing, Blue When I Ain’t. She is currently a company member of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. She thanks her friends and family for their continued support and love towards her career, passions, and artistry. And she thanks this marvelous cast, crew, and creative team for this lovely experience. “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” –Lena Horne

Alagia Felix, Assistant Director
(She/Her)

Alagia was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B.A. in theater, graduating with honors from SUNY Oswego. She is a Jill-of-all-theater-trades, fulfilling roles such as actress, director, stage manager, prop artisan, and African-American hair designer for shows such as August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, Grease, A Raisin in the Sun, Titus Andronicus, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, and I'm Black When I'm Singing, I'm Blue When I Ain't. Alagia practices theater as an ancestral duty of storytelling. She plans to further this transformative art into a master’s in drama therapy to deepen her community work within the African Diaspora and underserved communities. Community outreach with a strong focus on youth development and engagement is her passion.

Andrea Zee, New York Casting
(She/Her)

Love to Chip, DeReau, Jarrod, and Donald! Upcoming: Romeo and Juliet (Off-Broadway); God of Carnage (Off-Broadway); Sweeney Todd (5th Avenue Theatre); Dear Jack, Dear Louise (Virginia Theatre Festival). Off-Broadway/NYC: A Delicate Balance (NAATCO/Transport Group); Our Man In Santiago; Golden Shield (MTC); Where The Wild Things Are (New Victory); Neurosis; Syncing Ink; New York Stage and Film; Dramatists Guild Foundation; ACLU/NYCLU. National Tours: Yemandja; The Sound of Music; Bullets Over Broadway; Elf The Musical; Finding Neverland. Regional: Portland Center Stage, 5th Avenue Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arrow Rock Lyceum, Alley Theater, TUTS. Associate credits include numerous Broadway, film, television, and commercial projects. Zee-casting.com.

Audience Raves

"Timely and touching. Loved the energy of the performers and the storyline."

"Absolutely fantastic! The singing, acting, lighting, costumes, set design ... A M A Z I N G!!"

"I saw it last night and was blown away! What an amazing heart-wrenching story--the perfect balance of poignancy and humor. And seriously, the music was absolutely beautiful. I was so moved by the angelic rendition of Motherless Child that I found myself trying to stifle my crying so I wouldn't disturb those sitting around me. Thank you! What a gift this performance was!"

"Beautiful harmonies and voices, well crafted individual roles with wonderful acting yet difficult subject."

"Live theater! Amazing vocals!!! Touching moments — very touching."

"I also thought the incorporation of music into the story on so many different levels was really interesting and thought-provoking. Slight aside, but I also appreciated the representation of different body sizes — it is so common to see only one specific build for the body of a man not wearing a shirt, so it was cool to have some different representation here."

"Great message, enjoyable performances!"

"The music, complexity of issues "in the school"; Choir Boy was so well staged. I cried ... actors and staging, combined with the music, were so well-measured. Admired physical work and rapid backstage costume changes, as well."

Critic Reviews

"There are endless reasons to prioritize experiencing Portland Center Stage’s production of Choir Boy.  It strikes me that not all of them can be put into words." –Oregon ArtsWatch

"{Choir Boy} — filled with silver-toned, soul-baring a cappella spirituals and a sweet Motownphilly-take on a signature Rihanna hit — packed a bigger-than-expected emotional wallop." –The Oregonian

National Reviews

“Another must-see, stunning piece of art from playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. … Put simply, this is a play that demands to be seen, deserves to be seen, and must be seen.” –BroadwayWorld 

“Believe the buzz. Choir Boy, the small but mighty coming-of-age play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, deserves its kudos. [The play] captures the bristling tensions at a prestigious prep school for African American boys when a flamboyantly gay youth is named leader of their celebrated gospel choir.” –Variety

“The sweet harmonies of classic spirituals unite the sometimes fractious voices of the young men in Choir Boy … but when they raise their voices in unison, they offer a glimpse of a world in which the cruelty that can divide and destroy is dissolved in a graceful, embracing order. [An] affecting and honest portrait … of a gay youth tentatively beginning to find the courage to let the truth about himself become known.” –The New York Times

Choir Boy is a joyous celebration of vulnerability, a heartwarming reflection of how far we have come – and how far there is to go.” –Limelight Magazine

“In his stirring and stylishly told drama, Tarell Alvin McCraney cannily explores race and sexuality and the graces and gravity of history.” –NY Daily News

“A portrait of male adolescent turmoil within the walls of a prestigious African-American prep school.” —Hollywood Reporter

“The songs bring the house down. ... Choir Boy ascends and its choirboys achieve, as long as the notes hold, what feels like freedom.” –The Guardian

“Filled with beautifully sung a cappella hymns. … In Choir Boy, McCraney shows us how the arts can strengthen our sense of self and unite us, not just in spite of our differences but in celebration of them, if we only let them.” –The Globe & Mail 

In the News

"Although packed with a cappella spirituals and hymns, and featuring enough step choreography to fill a week of Fitbit goals, Choir Boy is not categorized as a musical. Still, the nonmusical musical is sure to hit all the right notes." –The Oregonian View the Feature

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