The boys are back!
Crafted by the visionary Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay, The Choir of Man brings together a stellar ensemble of nine extraordinary talents – a diverse group of actors, musicians, and instrumentalists. Hailing from the West End and around the globe, these performers will captivate audiences with an electric repertoire spanning pub anthems, folk melodies, Broadway hits, and timeless rock classics. From Adele to Guns N’ Roses, the show encompasses the best of musical legends, appealing to every generation. They return to Arts Centre Melbourne this holiday season for a strictly limited run!
Under Doodson’s direction and with musical supervision by a talented team, The Choir of Man guarantees unadulterated joy. A fusion of spine-tingling melodies, dynamic dance routines, and high-energy foot-stomping choreography.
What inspired the creation of The Choir of Man, and how did the concept for this unique show come about?
Nic: The Choir of Man was actually, appropriately, conceived in a beer garden! My co-creator, Andrew, Kay, and I were sitting discussing a different show that we have been working on, when Andrew said to me, “I’ve got an idea for a new show about a bunch of blokes singing together and we should call it ‘The Choir of Man’”. I loved the title and had spent the previous 15 years performing and creating shows about men singing. I wanted to put together a show which was based around that common gathering place, the pub, and featured masculinity viewed through a different lens. I love the idea of our pun not having a football team, or a darts team, but a choir. And I wanted the pub to be a place where men can come to share anything – good times, bad times, happiness, or sadness. I thought it was important to reflect this version of masculinity in an otherwise toxic world.
The Choir of Man showcases a blend of music, storytelling, and community. How do you believe this fusion resonates with audiences on an emotional level?
Nic: I think the people respond to community and that it’s something that is not celebrated enough. We all have a different version of community, whether that’s our neighbourhood, our school, our church, or even sports teams in which we participate. So when, on stage, we reflect that sense of community, I think the people respond to it very well. Putting any story to music heightens the storytelling and so it made natural sense to have this show about community be punctuated with musical interludes. Further, we decided to use familiar songs because people already have an emotional connection with that song, and they will resonate even deeper with our audiences.
What challenges have you encountered in working on the show?
Nic: I think the biggest challenge we’ve had so far has been the phenomenal growth of the show. We hoped that after our first showing in 2017 at the Edinburgh festival that we may be able to tour the show and give it a future life. But we never imagined that we would have five casts out at the same time! The speed of which the show has grown has made us “grow up“ very quickly and become a much more professional company than we were when we first started.
And what has been the biggest surprise?
Nic: Similar to the biggest challenge we faced, the biggest surprise was how quickly the show grew. When you create art, you really hope that some people will like it, but you always imagine that there will be a limit the number of people who really enjoy your show. Previous to Choir of Man, I had had no big successes, and so it was such a surprise to see how well the show resonated with audiences. Additionally, I was surprised to see how well our environment of the British pub travels throughout the world.
The concept of brotherhood and camaraderie seems central to the show – how do you cultivate and maintain this sense of unity among the cast?
Nic: We work very hard in rehearsals to build a connection between all the actors. This show works the best when it is real…when the actors on stage really are friends, really are enjoying themselves, and really do believe in the message that we are telling audiences. We don’t presume that the actors are always going to be best friends, but we do try to imbue in them a sense of respect for each other and a sense of respect for the work. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about how the greatest sports teams in the world were put together and what was their secret recipe. I’ve learned a lot about reading about the All Blacks, the great Manchester United sides of the 1990s, and teams like the Chicago Bulls. All of these great teams have a common goal, and a common respect of each other and of the shared experience. I try to give that to our actors and when they do have those shared goals and shared experiences it really does work. The brotherhood and the camaraderie comes out of that – but it has to come from a shared goal first.
The Choir of Man opens at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse Theatre on January 4th, 2024.
For tickets and more information, visit the Arts Centre Melbourne website.
Header image credit: Helen Maybanks