CHICAGO – Raven Theatre Company’s 35th anniversary season will begin in September with the Chicago premiere of Choir Boy by recent Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney who, together with writer-director Barry Jenkins, won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for the Academy’s Best Picture winner, Moonlight.
Choir Boy, which was first produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York during the summer of 2013, concerns a gay teenage boy in an all African-American prep school. The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys is dedicated to the development of strong, ethical black men. Pharus wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school’s legendary choir. Can he find his way inside the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key? Co-founder and Producing Artistic Director Michael Menendian will direct the production to be performed in the company’s 130-seat East Stage from September 27 through November 12, 2017.
The role of Pharus Jonathan Young, lead of the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys’ famous choir, will be taken by Christopher W. Jones who recently appeared in In To America (Griffin Theatre) and Miss Holmes (Lifeline Theatre). In the role of Bobby Marrow – Pharus’ rival for lead of the choir – will be Patrick Agada, who appeared at Raven in The Play About My Dad in 2015 and has also performed at the Goodman Theater and Chicago Shakespeare. The prep school’s director and Bobby’s uncle, Headmaster Marrow, will be played by Robert D. Hardaway, who appeared in To Kill A Mockingbird (Oak Park Festival Theatre) and Ruined (Eclipse Theatre). Mr. Pendleton, a professor at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, will be played by Don Tieri, who has recently been seen in Marvin’s Room (Shattered Globe) and Blood and Gifts (Timeline). Also in the cast are Tamarus Harvell (Anthony Justin “AJ” James), Julian Terrell Otis (Junior Davis) and Darren Patin (David Heard). Understudies are Benjamin Jenkins, Ben F. Locke, Ki-Jana Moore, Jabari Khaliq, Michael Rawls, and Tom Porter.
The design team includes Ray Toler (scenic design), Diane D. Fairchild (lighting design), and Sebby Woldt (sound design), along with Mary O’Dowd (properties design and set dressing) and JoAnn Montemurro (costume design). The production team includes Kathryn McNall (stage manager), Destiney Higgins (assistant director), Frederick Harris (music director), Breon Arzell (choreographer), and Dan Laushman (technical director).
Tarell Alvin McCraney (playwright) is well-known to Chicago audiences for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays: The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, which were performed at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2010. He was named a Steppenwolf ensemble member that year, and his play Head of Passes received its world premiere there in 2013, the year he received a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant.” On February 26 of this year, he shared an Academy Award with Barry Jenkins for “Best Adapted Screenplay” of Moonlight, which was also named “Best Picture” of 2016 by the Academy. The screenplay was based on McCraney’s short play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.
Michael Menendian (Director) is a co-founding member of Raven Theatre, where some of his previous directing credits include: Not About Nightingales, Red Velvet, Direct from Death Row The Scottsboro Boys, The Old Friends, Beast on the Moon, All My Sons, The Playboy of the Western World, A Soldier’s Play, Glengarry Glen Ross, Golden Boy, A Streetcar Named Desire, A View from the Bridge, Dancing at Lughnasa, Jesus Hopped the ’A’ Train, Death of a Salesman and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He has earned multiple Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards for direction and design.
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Michael Menendian
September 27 – November 12, 2017
Previews: Wednesday, September 27 through Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm and Monday, October 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm. Opening Night: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Performances continue through Sunday, November 12, 2017
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm beginning Friday, October 6 (no show Thursday, October 5, 2017)
All performances on Raven’s East Stage
6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville), Chicago
Nearest El station Granville Red Line, Buses: #22 (Clark), #36 (Broadway), #151 (Sheridan), #155 (Devon), #64 (Peterson).
Tickets: $46.00 ($43.00 if purchased online), seniors/teachers $41.00 ($38.00 if purchased online), students/active military and veterans $15.00. Groups of 10 or more are $30 per person for Thursday and Friday performances and $35 per person for Saturday and Sunday performances. Student groups are $15.00 per person. Every Thursday is “Under 30 Thursday,” when patrons under age 30 can purchase tickets for $15.00.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.raventheatre.com or by phone at 773-338-2177.
Subscriptions for the 2017-2018 Season are now on sale. Subscriptions may be purchased online at www.raventheatre.com or by telephone at 773-338-2177.
About Raven Theatre
Raven Theatre tells stories of today and the past that connect us to our cultural landscape. Through its plays as well as its educational programming, Raven is committed to serving our communities’ needs through the arts.
Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by the Alphawood Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, Yates Feldman Foundation, S&C Electric, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre – additional street parking is available.
Raven Theatre is handicapped accessible.
Tickets/information: www.raventheatre.com or 773-338-2177.