Choir Boy's NYC Premiere Will Star Chuck Cooper, Austin Pendleton, Jeremy Pope and More

By Kenneth Jones
24 Mar 2013

The American premiere Tarell Alvin McCraney's Choir Boy, a play with gospel music, will feature Nicholas L. Ashe, Kyle Beltran, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, Grantham Coleman, Austin Pendleton, Jeremy Pope and Wallace Smith, Manhattan Theatre Club announced on March 24.



Trip Cullman (Assistance; Murder Ballad; Lonely, I'm Not) will direct the play, to get a five-week limited engagement starting June 18, opening July 2 and playing to July 21 as part of MTC's new-works program The Studio at Stage II - Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Series at New York City Center. This is the same series that launched, as its inaugural staging in fall 2012, the new rock musical Murder Ballad.

Here's how MTC bills the play: "The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys is dedicated to the creation of strong, ethical black men. Pharus (Jeremy Pope) wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school's legendary gospel choir. Can he find his way inside the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key?"

The production team includes David Zinn (scenic and costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Fitz Patton (sound design) and Jason Michael Webb (music director).

Choir Boy was commissioned by MTC. Choir Boy is a co-production with Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

Ashe appeared in The Lion King; Beltran is a veteran of In the Heights; Cooper's credits include Broadway's The Life, Finian's Rainbow and Caroline, or Change; Coleman appeared in New York Shakespeare Festival's As You Like It; Drama Desk Award winner Austin Pendleton appeared in Fiddler on the Roof and Classic Stage's Ivanov; Pope's has toured with Theatreworks USA; and Smith's resume includes American Idiot.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on April 15. "In order to ensure that tickets to Choir Boy are affordable to the widest possible, most diverse audiences," MTC is pricing tickets at $30 for the initial run of the show.

Tickets will be available via CityTix at (212) 581-1212, at nycitycenter.org, and at the New York City Center Box Office, 131 W. 55th Street.

For additional details on MTC's "30 Under 30" program for theatergoers age 30 and under, visit manhattantheatreclub.com/30under30/.

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The Studio at Stage II is Manhattan Theatre Club's new initiative, under the leadership of Mandy Greenfield, at New York City Center – Stage II. As part of The Studio at Stage II, MTC and Ars Nova (Jason Eagan, artistic director; Jeremy Blocker, managing director) have partnered to launch The Writer's Room, "a program to commission, develop, and support playwrights in the process of creating new work for the stage."