Wednesday 2 August 2023

The Choir of Man - Review

Arts Theatre, London


Created by Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay
Directed by Nic Doodson

The cast of The Choir Of Man

In an evening that sees the Arts Theatre’s stage transformed into the Jungle Pub, The Choir of Man is an immaculately delivered tribute to glorious masculinity (yes, you read that correctly) and the importance of friendship, talking and, for the single-act ninety minutes of this show at least, the power of song.

More of a playlist than a jukebox musical, The Choir of Man incorporates bangers from across decades, bands and both sides of the Atlantic, performed by 9 actors accompanied by a 4-piece band. The cast’s air of folksy camaraderie is convincing, but look closely and the evening is (as a West End show should be) immaculately rehearsed and drilled. Before the show the audience can buy pints from the onstage bar and with frequent moments of in-show audience participation, the ale flows liberally throughout.

From ballads to rock classics and anthems, you have to hand it to Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay for seeing the potential of fusing The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles, Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father and Queen’s Somebody To Love into the same setlist. The evening’s compilations are inspired - and hats off to any show that includes Rupert Holmes’s Escape (The Pina Colada Song), albeit that number went down very well with an audience mostly comprised of women having a great night out.

The actors are all pitch perfect quadruple-threats but a nod to Ben Goffe who not only pulls off a stunning tap routine to Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, but offers up a brilliant trumpet riff to the Pina Colada song too.

There are moments of narrative betwixt some of the songs that very occasionally stray into schmaltz - but these monologues albeit rehearsed, are sincerely researched and there’s a heartfelt plea from the stage to support CALM, a charity that seeks to reduce UK suicides, 75% of which are men.

Amidst blinding talent that includes some jaw-dropping acapella work, a refreshing message and sensational craic, The Choir of Man makes for a cracking night out.

Runs until 18 February 2024

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