Set in The Jungle, an old-fashioned pub with a bar, a sticky floor, rickety tables, chairs, stained beer mats and an upright piano The Choir Of Man is introduced by the Narrator: Ben Norris (The Poet), who introduces us to the guys who frequent The Jungle. The first song is started with a punch with the Guns & Roses anthem “Welcome To The Jungle”.
As Ben tells us, most pubs have a football team or a darts team – The Jungle has a choir. During the show, Ben introduces us to the rest of the choir of pub regulars, all of whom have a personality of their own. We meet Mark the barman (George Bay) who dispenses the drinks, The Romantic (Miles Anthony Daley) who’s just split up with his partner, The Beast (Richard Lock) who plays gentle acoustic guitar and sings like an angel! Then there’s (not so) Hardman (Matt Beveridge), Joker (Daniel Hartnett), The Pub Bore (Tyler Orphé-Bake), Handyman (Freddie Huddleston) and The Maestro (Alistair Higgins) who plays delightful classical music on the pub’s piano.
The show doesn’t have a plot as such we are treated to monologues by The Poet and that’s okay as you’re really here for the songs. The show’s set includes a working bar. The Choir Of Man audiences are welcome on stage to grab a pint and meet the boys before the show begins. Oli Townsend’s set would be right at home with the musical Once!
Songs vary from “The Impossible Dream” to The Proclaimers “Five Hundred Miles” taking in “The Pina Colada Song”, and even Adele’s “Hello”. A stand out number for me was a spine tingling acapella version of Sia’s “Chandelier” it showcased nine precise and powerful harmonies. There’s an interesting and sometimes unexpected mix of songs from pop hits to big anthems and of course singing along from the audience and also some audience participation on stage and amazing free beer handed out!
A live band is found behind the choir: Zami Jalil on violin, Caleb Wilson on bass, Emmanuel Nana Kwasi Bonsu on drums and Ash Squires on guitar, the lads also come down on stage and join in with the choir who also play instruments. There are nice touches like the banging of pint glasses and trays to give the sound some massive percussive power, some impressive pint glass choreography!
Created by Andrew Kay and Nic Doodson who produces and directs, The Choir Of Man has become a bit of a phenomenon with productions in Australia, USA and the UK and it’s not hard to see why – The Choir Of Man is a uplifting, heart-warming and life-affirming way to lift the spirits. In just over an hour, you’ll laugh, sing, applaud and maybe even shed a tear but your guaranteed to have a wonderful time, and you’ll leave the theatre singing your heart out. I say get another round in!
The Choir Of Man is at The Arts Theatre London. Get your Tickets now online.