Choir Boy hits Canberra following its sell tour at WorldPride

This Quuer Tony Award-nominated show, featuring soul-stirring gospel music is coming to the Canberra Theatre
David Blanco  |  Art & Culture
Choir Boy

Audiences are in store for an unforgettable night at the theatre when the critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama ‘Choir Boy’ commences its Canberra season following its sell out run in Sydney during WorldPride.

This Tony Award-nominated show, featuring soul-stirring gospel music, premiered in London’s West End before moving to Broadway. Penned by the Oscar-winning writer of queer film classic ‘Moonlight’, ‘Choir Boy’ is the uplifting story of Pharus (Darron Hayes, reprising his role on Broadway), an openly gay student at the exclusive Charles R Drew Prep School for Boys.

He is the leader of school’s renowned Gospel Choir but struggles to gain respect and acceptance from his peers and fellow choristers.

 Choir Boy is a tender meditation on Black queerness told through sublime music. The Guardian

Can Pharus remain true to his identity amid the masculine expectations and bullying he faces at school?

In advance of ‘Choir Boy’s Canberra season, David Blanco from FUSE Magazine spoke with cast member Gareth Dutlow about this must-see production.

David Blanco (FUSE): How would you describe ‘Choir Boy’?

Gareth Dutlow: Choir Boy is a rare piece of art that examines the intersections of sexuality, expectations of masculinity, religion, and education. It’s full of heart and explores the paradox of finding joy in the midst of pain. 

FUSE: Can you tell our readers about the cast of ‘Choir Boy’?

GD: This cast is so phenomenal! Each of us bring our personal stories to the stage which brings the work to life. We feel the weight and importance of this work every time we perform it. I’ve felt so welcomed by this cast in my professional debut, and it’s been a pleasure to welcome Darron Hayes to Australia also!

FUSE: Do you think stories dealing with themes of sexuality and gender identity have, in the past, been told in musical theatre? Do you think that musicals tackle these themes more than other art forms, or it still an area of storytelling that needs to grow?

GD: I remember seeing ‘Kinky Boots’ in 2016 and thinking ‘my God maybe there is a space for me in this industry’. While I wouldn’t consider ‘Choir Boy’ a musical in the traditional sense of the word, there is something about music and song that helps us convey our inner most feelings and emotions. Personally, gospel music has been a very important part of my life and it’s reflected in this show - it connects us not only to God, but to the divine in one another.

FUSE: ‘Choir Boy’ is set in a culturally-specific environment, namely a prep school for African-American teenage boys. Do you think the material has travelled well to audiences outside the US? If so, why?

GD: Because the show is such an exploration of intersectionality, I’ve been so pleased to see that audiences can relate to at least one of the themes presented. We had a white Australian man in tears saying that they could relate to being queer at an all-boys school. Sure, they couldn’t relate to being black, but this shows queerness made it travel well to Australian audiences. And because their hearts are open to that, they are hearing our experience as black people also.

FUSE: Tony Sheldon is a legendary Australian stage performer and a casting coup for the production. How has it been working with him?

GD: Tony is one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. He has been generous with his performance on stage, but also with his love and wisdom backstage. It’s been everything to me to be starting out in this industry and to be able to learn from someone like him. I’m very grateful!

FUSE: How would you describe ‘Choir Boy’s’ music and how it complements the play's plot?

GD: The shows music is a beautiful curation of black negro spirituals and gospel music. The songs complement each character’s arc. There are beautiful clues to each of these boy’s stories within the music. The characters use these songs to cry out to God but also to each other. 

FUSE: ‘Choir Boy’s’ recent Sydney season coincided with WorldPride. How was the play received and how does it address the concept of 'Pride'? 

GD: Pride is so important, especially for young people. I always imagine how our main character Pharus would continue their story beyond the pages of the script. I think he’d find himself experiencing the euphoria we experienced at Sydney WorldPride. I think it’s been received well. Audiences can acknowledge there’s pain in our stories, but there is also immense joy and pride just around the corner!

Choir Boy – Canberra Theatre – 29 March – 2 April 2023.


This performance contains strobe lighting, fog/haze effects, coarse language and themes including violence, racism, and homophobia. Parental discretion is advised. This performance is recommended for children aged 15 and over.

More Coverage

Lonesome at the 2023 Mardi Gras Film Festival

At its most compelling, the film is an intimate study of emotionally scarred strangers who find communion through the flesh that opens a tentative window to their hearts.

Burlesque is changing lives and thriving in our community

The Queen of glitter, Jazida, has discovered the power of misbehaving and how burlesque is changing lives in our community.

Queer Bulgarian, Ivo Dimchev is King of Queens

Queer performance artist Ivo Dimchev has improbably become one of Bulgaria’s most famous singer/songwriter. He chatted to FUSE Magazine about his latest work King!

© All rights reserved FUSE Magazine. Website designed by Lithium.

Back to Top