By Carly Fisher
The small pub world wide is at risk, we know this. In fact, in the UK, one closes on an average of every 12 hours. For many of us, we may just see that as the closing of…well, a bar, a drinking place, etc. For others, it is the closing of a community house, an area for people to gather, to be a part of something and to form a sense of family where you know you’ll always be able to find a friend whenever you need. That is the basic storyline of Choir of Man and their local, The Jungle, is that very sacred home to them. It’s a pub that doesn’t have a local footy team or a darts competition but instead a choir.
And what a choir it is. 9 men who sing covers of songs we all know and love (think Chandelier, Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and the crowd-pleaser of the night, The Voice) with a beer in hand and a knack for perfect, multi-part harmonies. In the perfectly chosen Studio at the Sydney Opera House, the 9 men perform against the familiar backdrop of their local pub, even inviting us as the audience up for a beer with them. Our scene is set for a night of easy-going fun and a true ode to mateship.
This may be a story of 9 blokes from the UK singing at their UK based pub but it feels so familiar to our Aussie audiences that it may as well of been your local down the road. The Choir of Man is 80 minutes of high energy and equally high quality musical performance with an endearing heart that makes you feel like you know and love these guys in just the one act cabaret you spend with them.
The Choir of Man first took to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and its been on a non stop success train since then. 2019 for the guys was spent in Australia, back in Edinburgh and on a European tour and 2020 will see the guys return to the US for a North American tour.
The success of the show lies completely in its heart. All 9 performers – Tom Brandon, Denis Grindel, Jordan Oliver, Daniel ‘Danny’ Harnett, Richard ‘Dickie’ Lock, Ali Higgins, Matt Beveridge, Peter Lawrence and Mark Loveday – grab you from the first note of the first song. They are the consummate showmen and better still, you can tell that they are having a good time on stage. Their talents are clear – they seem to master every instrument that they touch! A smooth Higgins is our pianoman, whilst an energetic Lock masters both percussion and guitar whilst also having the stand out voice 9for me) of the night….I could listen to him for hours and wished he was featured more prominently in a number of songs, and an impressive Lawrence is rarely seen without a guitar – or flute – in hand…to name only a few. They are an exceptionally musically gifted bunch but it is their friendship and comradery on stage that really was the real winning point for me.
This show is definitely a cabaret – its not got the storyline to carry it in the musical category, nor does it pretend to. It is an ode to the pub heritage and a celebration of good music, topped off with killer harmonies and really fun songs! The amount that the guys managed to interact with the audience too was impressive and exciting!
I see a lot of theatre and I haven’t had that much fun at a show for a while – it’s 80 minutes of just pure joy and great music (…and sweet smiles from a pack of good looking guys) so my recommendation would be to get your tickets quickly and catch the guys whilst they are at the Opera House until December 1st. And get a beer on your way in…it’s that kind of a night!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.