Pharus Jonathan Young is black, gay and gifted, like the playwright who created him, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, best known for the Oscar winning film Moonlight. McCraney is making his Broadway debut with Choir Boy, his sweet, sad, substantive play. With nimble direction by Trip Cullman and a lively cast mostly of Broadway newcomers performing some soulful music, it doubles as a glorious entertainment.
Pharus, winningly portrayed by Jeremy Pope, is the choir boy of the title, a scholarship student at The Charles R Drew Preparatory School for Boys, where for half a century the black elite has sent its sons. Pharus is comically full of himself, impressed with his own talent as a tenor; “I’ve never missed the key of g since I was three.” He’s not just sassy; he’s “ambitious and operating,” as the headmaster puts it. But he is also full of insecurities, not least because he has been bullied all his life — “the lil Sweet Boy,” he says, that “they been trying to straighten out for years.”