Choir of Man at The Arts Theatre
If you are like me you have probably heard of Choir of Man but are maybe unsure what it is all about and why so many people are raving about it! Well let me fill you in!
The Arts Theatre has been turned into a local pub, from the decor adorning the walls of the auditorium to the working bar on stage and this leads to the perfect setting for this show. The show is a very simple premise that we are in a pub, ‘The Jungle’ with a group of guys who are also in the pub choir. Most pubs have darts or pool teams, this pub just happens to have a choir! Through the medium of song and monologues we learn about each individual and their friendship and you leave the feeling like you are genuinely friends with each and every one of the guys on stage.
The cast are all named after a personality trait so we have ‘The Hardman,’ The Romantic,’ ‘The Maestro,’ ‘The Poet’ and ‘The Joker’ to name a few. This is an inspired idea as it allows the audience to connect with something about them very quickly and instantly means that there are characteristics we recognise in our own friendship groups on stage. However whilst these descriptions are very two dimensional as the show progresses we learn more about each of them, culminating in the ending section about home where you learn a bit more about the real person behind the character, something that changes depending on who is playing that role that night.
The poet has the majority of the monologues throughout the show and this was played by Denis Grindel on the night I saw it. The monologues were written by Ben Norris and range from insightful to fun but always getting the vibe of the piece spot on. Grindle reeled the audience in with his Irish lilt and relaxed manner and ensure that the audience were along for the ride. Within the monologues Choir of Man also has a subtle touch of social commentary with encouraging guys to express their emotions to raising a glass to the closing pubs that are being replaced with soulless flats. As you can tell there is not plot but I don’t miss it. My only criticism about the writing would be that the urinal joke went on slightly too long for me.
The song choice is well thought out and you have everything from Adele to Guns N Roses with a bit of Queen, Sia and Luther Vandross thrown in for good measure. The song arrangements by Jack Blume are all spot on and they make the harmonies sound like liquid gold! The up tempo numbers are fun with fitting moments of dance incorporated as well as many of them picking up an instrument or 2 throughout the show. The more moving numbers are beautifully delivered and to go from handing out beer to the audience to being able to hear a pin drop in the more tender moments is an impressive accomplishment. All of the cast were vocally stunning so it seems unfair to single out any individuals on this front as the success of the show relies on them all working together.
The band are also a key part of the show. They are positioned above the stage but in full view of the audience and they frequently come down to join the cast on stage and accompany them from there. It however wasn’t just the band getting involved on stage. At regular moments throughout the show unsuspecting audience members are pulled onto stage and into the action, more often than not leaving with a beer, or even a pina colada in their hand!
The skills aren’t just confined to the music however, ‘The Handyman’ played by Jordan Oliver gave a stunning tap routine which saw him bound across the stage, tables and of course the bar itself. Throughout the cast were moving across the stage seamlessly and the stomp style number undertaken with beer glasses in hands was another highlight of the show.
Choir of Man is the type of show where you leave feeling like you have had a great night out with your mates. It really is a show that has something for everyone, charismatic performers, stunning vocals, a huge range of musical styles and of course….beer!
Choir of Man is running until the end of May 2023. You can find out more and book tickets here.