The countdown is on until the Tony Award® nominated play Choir Boy comes to QPAC as part of a national premiere tour.
Choir Boy, by the Academy Award® winning writer of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney, will premiere at Riverside Theatres Parramatta in association with Sydney WorldPride 2023 on 14 February, before it lights up our Cremorne Theatre from 15 to 18 March 2023.
Threaded with soul-stirring a cappella gospel hymns, Choir Boy is a moving story of sexuality, race, hope, gospel music, and a young gay man finding his voice.
The play premiered in 2012 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, before seasons across the USA and a successful Broadway production.
The stella cast list comprises; international musical theatre performer Darron Hayes (Denver Centre for Performing Arts’ Choir Boy) alongside Tony Sheldon (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Robert Harrell (The Shield), Zarif (Lonesome), Quinton Rofail Rich (Godspell), Theo Williams (Passing Strange), Gareth Dutlow, Abu Kebe and Tawanda Muzenda (professional debuts).
We were lucky enough to sit in on a cast recording of a song from Choir Boy at Riverside's National Theatre of Paramatta.
We also caught up with the show's Musical Director, Allen René Louis, who has come all the way from New York to bring his immense talent to this new Australian take on the play.
We asked him about his career and what we can expect from the production.
How do you like being currently based in Australia as Musical Director on National Theatre of Parramatta’s Choir Boy?
To be in this beautiful city, working on this production honestly feels like a dream.
What is the best thing about your job as a Musical Director?
I truly enjoy the creative process. Collaborating with other creatives and creating music to fully support and serve an artistic project brings me so much joy.
You obviously are an amazing singer yourself. What has been the highlight of your career to date either as a performer or Musical Director or both?
In 2021, I had the opportunity of arranging for and performing at the Tony Awards®. This opportunity changed my life and will forever be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
How would you describe the talent of the Australian artists who have been cast for roles in Choir Boy?
Every member of our cast brings such an honest and beautiful element to this production. The level of talent in this cast is felt with each note and scene. I am in awe of them!
What is it like working again with Darron Hayes who played Pharus Young at the Denver Centre for Performing Arts, and what strengths do they bring to this role?
Working with Darron Hayes is an honor. I sometimes wonder, how is it possible that one individual possesses this much talent and heart. Darron bares his soul in this production and brings a level of truth that is tangible.
Tell us about the songs featured in this Australian Premiere production and anything you have adapted or changed from the US versions?
The same list of songs, consisting of Spirituals, Hymns and R&B songs, are used for every production of this show. The songs featured in this production are my original arrangements.
What is your favourite song in Choir Boy and why?
My favorite song in this production is Rockin' In Jerusalem. There is something so uplifting and electric about this number. It is high energy and the heart of the cast is truly felt here.
What do you hope audiences take away from this production?
Every human has been created differently and perfectly. It is our obligation as the human race to embrace each other's differences and create safe spaces for all.
Tell us about Broadway Inspirational Voices, its aims and what it means to you?
The Broadway Inspirational Voices is a diverse community of Broadway artists, united to change lives through the power of music and service. Being the Artistic Director of this organisation means the world to me. Knowing the healing and transformative power of music for myself, it has been a pleasure being able to give back by joining forces with the organisation and impacting the world!
We can't wait to have the Queensland premiere of Choir Boy in our Cremorne Theatre.
For a taste of the incredible gospel singing and to hear from the creatives and cast, check out the behind-the-scenes video below:
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