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The Choir of Man - musical review


If you're up for an unforgettable and immersive night out, The Choir of Man may just be the show for you. Having extended its West End residency at the Arts Theatre, and now welcoming a new cast to 'The Jungle' bar, for 90 minutes, it becomes a place to call home.

Featuring hit tracks from Guns 'N' Roses, to Adele, this production musically has something for everyone, as well as the opportunity to be part of a completely unique theatrical experience. Beginning with the chance to swig a beer on stage with the cast, the place encapsulates the bubbling atmosphere reflective of positive drinking culture. Along with this, there are a whole host of interactive moments throughout the performance, which can be taken on as much or as little as desired. As expected with involvement, there appears to be a constant ripple of voices chatting in the audience, but as the piece progresses, and a deeper underlying meaning begins to emerge, there are noticeable changes as viewers hush to embrace those times too.

Visually encapsulating with plenty of action within the appealing and familiar pub set, it doesn't require changes, or a heavy use of props to be effective; there is always some entertaining chaos occurring, whether that be stacking cards or cups, or singing to unsuspecting (but willing) audience members. With the band situated visibly above the stage but often coming down to join in the fun - Emmanuel Nana Kwasi Bonsu on drums, Jack Hartigan on guitar, Darius Luke Thompson on violin (a bit of piano, and a pineapple), and Sam Tookey on bass. It's clear that The Choir of Man has come a long way since its fringe days, though still has that budding essence of intimacy that suits this venue to a tee, and brings an extra dynamic that makes everyone feel part of something special.

Without a specific plot, there are no restraints to the show in terms of fulfilling a storyline, and therefore allows for the single act performance to thrive in other ways; mainly through monologue, comedy, and vocal excellence. Interjected with some cracking pop tunes, you'll have the most stunning rendition of Sia's 'Chandelier' that you'll ever hear, a saucily hilarious version of 'Escape (The Piña Colada Song)' and a singalong version of '500 Miles' which gets the best kind of audience recall, not forgetting the foot-stomping opener of aptly named 'Welcome To The Jungle' among these. Incorporating a range of styles to truly display the versatility of those on stage, the cast of nine actor-musicians, nicknamed after various characteristics, include: Michael Hamway (Poet), Mark Irwin (Barman), Ben Goffe (Handyman), Daniel Harnett (Joker), Michele Maria Benvenuto (Maestro), Luke Conner Hall (Romantic), Adam Bayjou (Hardman), Tom Miles (Beast) and Andrew J Carter (Bore). Each getting their moments to headline, while also complementing each other faultlessly as a company, they prove to be adaptable performers through both skill and presentation.

But amongst the banter and booze, the message of protecting men's mental health projects through, and a particular segment detailing the stories of each person, and what friendship, community and home mean to them: a deeper perspective that is cherished, while refraining from drawing away the uplifting spirits created, purely adding the perfect balance.

Additionally having plenty of chances at bagging yourself an extra souvenir in the form of a beer mat or packet of crisps (both flying through the auditorium), The Choir of Man puts the audience at the forefront of an amazing experience to remember. New surprises are around every corner, you'll never know where the show is going next, but thoroughly enjoy every moment - it will be your next favourite.


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