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The Choir Of Man - Arts Theatre Review

The doors to The Jungle first swung open in 2017 at the Edinburgh Fringe as The Choir of Man burst onto the scene. Fast forwards to now where the show has played hit runs in the UK and internationally. The show now returns to London's Arts Theatre for a second run following an Olivier-nominated run in 2021.

The cast of The Choir of Man. Photo by The Other Richard

The show is set inside a pub where everyone is welcome and this begins as soon as you enter the auditorium. On stage, there is a working bar serving beer where the audience is welcome to come up and be served. There's the chance to mingle with the performers themselves and this creates a brilliant atmosphere. This instantly removes any barrier and makes the whole piece feel like a joint experience for those on stage and everyone in the audience. 

This is a show about community and the people who make one. The central figure is The Poet, played superbly by understudy Gavin Ryan at the performance I attended. Monologues written by Ben Norris weave the show together. These monologues are often profound and moving especially when talking about those who are no longer with us or of family.

Those monologues are molded around a fantastic selection of songs. Each number is given an exciting new life by the cast of great voices and musicians. There's plenty of heart poured into the softer numbers including the timeless 'The Impossible Dream' or Adele's 'Hello' but there's plenty of joy to be had too in the group numbers where the show goes full throttle. 'Escape (The PiƱa Colada Song)' led by Lemuel Knights as The Barman is great fun. Fun's 'Some Nights' is probably the crowing glory music number and features some outstanding choreographed movements by Freddie Huddleston.

The characters all get introduced and we continue to learn more about them as the piece develops. The real sense of the local boozer being home and we as an audience or invited to think about our own local establishments and all those that are struggling or may be lost due to the COVID pandemic. It's all about the people who make these places so special and you can feel the camaraderie on the stage especially as the cast themselves show real raw emotions. This breaks any barrier in which men are given a space where they can talk.

The cast of The Choir of Man. Photo by The Other Richard.

The cast is, to put it simply, phenomenal. Bringing those emotions, powerful vocals and boundless energy. There's great banter going on the whole time that you're not sure where the script begins or how much is in the moment. It's difficult to single anyone out as everyone is brilliant but special mention must go to Jordan Oliver as The Handyman for his astonishing tap dancing. Also, I must shout out to understudies Sam Ebenezer as The Maestro, Mark Irwin as The Joker and Lucas Koch as The Beast who at the Saturday night performance I attended were all superb.

The cast themselves are hugely talented instrumentalists and this bolsters the sound that is created by the four musicians (Emmanuel Nana Kwasi Bonsu on drums, Jack Hartigan on guitar, Darius Luke Thompson on violin and Caleb Wilson on bass). Jack Blume's orchestration and arrangements are delighting and bring that party feel but also tap further into the emotional core of the piece. The songs have never sounded better.

The whole show has a party feel and the energy is electric throughout but it is that heart that stays with you, it's beautifully evident as the final number 'The Parting Glass' is sung acapella and without microphones. It's a stunning moment that resonates and further shows the skill of the performers. 

The Choir Of Man serves up 90 minutes of incredible music and is a timely reminder of what good company can bring. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll sing along and you will have a great time. Grab your family or your pals and experience the best party in the West End. A dazzling triumph.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Choir Of Man is playing an open-ended run at The Arts Theatre in London. Tickets are currently booking until February 5th 2023. To book visit

The cast of The Choir Of Man. Photo by The Other Richard

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