With stunning vocal arrangements and charming showmanship, Choir of Man transforms Music Hall at Assembly Rooms into a local pub in this delightfully absorbing concert.
Toeing the line between concert and musical, Choir of Man links a familiar catalogue of songs with monologues which introduce you to a group of male friends on a casual night out at their local pub. In the 750-seat Music Hall at Assembly Rooms, the cast have quite a challenge replicating the homely feeling of a small British pub. They compensate for this by welcoming audience members onto the stage, and pulling pints from a fully functioning bar, throughout the performance.
Choir of Man begins with an energetic rendition of ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, which sets the tone for the night. Casually bantering and grabbing drinks from the bar, the cast really do have the chemistry of old friends. The ability to do so whilst singing in glorious harmony brings to mind a student theatre after-show cast party. But with more straight men…
Narrator Dennis Grindel’s Irish lilt makes everyone feel right at home as he briefly gives us a bit of background on each of his friends and charmingly asks: “Who wants a drink? The more you drink, the better we sound. The more you drink, the better we look!”.
Vocal standouts include Jon Sheehy’s gut-wrenching performance of Adele’s ‘Hello’ and Aidan Banyard’s solo in ‘Some Nights’. In a moment of stillness amongst the festivities, the cast showed off sheer choral talent and precision in ‘Chandelier’ before launching into crowd favourite ‘Somebody To Love’. A mix of classic rock and vaguely recent pop hits, the set list holds few surprises but plenty of beloved gems that will have you singing along.
Amongst the “unadulterated entertainment” promised by the show’s marketing, Choir of Man also touches upon some unexpected socially-charged subjects that elevate the show to more than an manly-Mamma-Mia fluff piece. A toast to pubs becomes a monologue about the sacristy of public spaces and a call to protect them from gentrification, and subtle references to mental health tell us that in this pub, men are allowed to cry. The camaraderie of the cast makes you wish you were part of their gang, and by the time the show ends, you feel like you are.