Review by Natalie Low
Everyone is familiar with a typical London pub, and the comfort you experience at one. Everyone probably also has their own vivid memories created at pubs and The Choir of Man play into that right from the beginning.
When you walk in, you get invited to the stage, where the cast is serving everyone free beer and it’s a relaxing and fun time for everyone.
The show then starts proper and you get introduced proper. You’re at The Jungle and their 9 regular pubgoers are here to tell their story. Currently playing on the West End in London, The Choir of Man has also excitedly brought their show around the world. The set-up is simple, fashioned like your typical English pub, along with tables set around against a tropical backdrop with the pub’s name.
The 9 members of the cast introduce themselves and play into the characteristic of each person, and each of them have a story to tell. From loss of love, to wanting to find love, they all tell their stories through song.
They know their audience and play to that very well. They not only interact with the audience from the very beginning, but they also bring people up onstage, and singing directly to them. One instance, they bring up this sweet elderly lady to sing a cover of “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry to her absolute delight. It’s adorable, heart-warming, and endearing.
All the songs are covers, and they sing a wide range of songs – from the previously mentioned Katy Perry to Lady Gaga right down to Queen’s Somebody to Love, there is a song in there for everyone.
A particular highlight was probably their rendition of Sia’s Chandelier. Their harmonies are tight, and the arrangements allow each singer to have their moment to shine. The cast also have their opportunity to accompany some songs with a piano, a cajon, and even tap-dancing!
The storyline can feel rather unclear at times because there is no one proper storyline to follow. They don’t go into details of all the people you meet onstage, and perhaps put too much focus on one or two of them. However, the choreography and the vocals are tight, and you can tell that the cast is having a great time onstage. While perhaps this show might fare better in a more intimate venue, the audience is enraptured right from the beginning. The cast members also make sure that everyone is included, with constantly going into the audience and even making sure the ones at the back are involved as well.
Perhaps the thing that makes this show very enjoyable is being able to see these 9 guys challenge the role of masculinity in this because being a choir and singing love songs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about a group of guys in a pub but this concept is immediately embraced and you get to see these men be vulnerable and emotional throughout this whole show and it does feel rather refreshing.
It's understandable how this show has won so many awards because it’s a impossible not to have a fun time, with a wonderful message about community and being able to find delight and comfort in a familiar setting, and encouraging everyone to being open to emotions and being vulnerable.