The Choir of Man

Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne

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If you want to see a show full of feel good, life affirming entertainment, you should look no further than The Choir of Man. Straight from London’s West End, it is sensational. Music, revelry and heart-felt exchanges with the audience are the name of the game and the punters get to join it even before the show starts. That is when we can wander onto the stage – set up as an old English pub – with the performers and enjoy a pint. Then, as the narrative concert unfolds, more brews are poured and spectators serenaded. A really beaut time is had by all.

I can’t speak any more highly of the intoxicating atmosphere created. It is the work of nine highly talented singers/musicians and a four-piece band situated above and slightly behind the pub, known as The Jungle. Given its name, it is not surprising that the walls of the tavern are liberally peppered with framed animal prints. From lions and tigers to elephants and giraffes, from dogs and cats to birds of prey and cows … and more besides.

Many of the tunes are pleasingly familiar. I speak of the likes of Save Tonight, The Impossible Dream, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Hello, 500 Miles, Bring Tomorrow On and You’re the Voice. There is even an a cappella version of Chandelier … and an awesome tap number. From the tub thumping to the melodic and melancholy, it is all there. As good as the songs are, it is the arrangements that make them even more special. There are also surprises in the show, notably when men must do their business. Hilarious.

As much of The Choir of Man is about party time and telling tall tales, it is about more than that. To that effect, the mood shifts are appreciable and welcome. The blokes on stage are presented as great mates. They have each other’s backs. So, we are talking comradeship … sharing the ups and downs of life. The MC, and the glue that binds the music together, is the silky-smooth voiced Alistair Higgins, referred to as Poet, who is charming and cheeky.

What shines through is the distinct and delightful personalities of all the characters, with monikers including Maestro, Romantic, Beast, Barman, Handyman and Joker. The show ensures the spotlight is turned on each of them at various junctures and when it is, without exception, they excel. So, individually they are strong and collectively they harmonise magnificently. Highlight after highlight makes The Choir of Man unmissable.

It is one of the finest, most rounded, entertaining and engaging pieces of music theatre I have attended. It is warm, friendly and inviting. I regard it as must-see material. It may be sugary, but it sure is sweet. Ninety minutes without interval, The Choir of Man is on at Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne until 11thJanuary, 2024.

Alex First

Alex First

Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little. Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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