Whether you consider yourself a bro, dude, bloke, lad or dad, the “Choir of Man” is singing for you on Oct. 13 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. But, what exactly is the “Choir of Man?”
“We have instances where people came in expecting opera singers or church singers or even a young boys choir,” said Denis Grindel, the Irish narrator of the 90-minute show from the British Isles.
In reality, “Choir of Man” is a party. It’s a concert. It’s a pint-filled good time set in a working pub that combines music, dance and live percussion with choreography and spoken word, said Grindel, the only gay cast member.
“It’s a feel-good evening that celebrates male camaraderie and being a lad,” he explained. “The set is a working pub—with a bar man—and the audience is welcomed to have a pint with us for the first 10 or 15 minutes before the show. It’s a great way to get (the audience) into the mindset so they’re already on our side and in the mood for a night out with friends.”
The cast of nine then performs an eclectic mix of music from traditional pub songs and folk to Broadway show tunes and classic rock. The set list includes works by Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Queen and Katy Perry, and even a song from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
The talented British and Irish singers pick up instruments and throw on tap shoes, too, in a program that is anything but predictable. In addition to introducing musical numbers, Grindel does extra duty on the piano and piano accordion—the Irish version of the traditional accordion. Others play ukulele and guitars, drums and a trumpet.
“We bring a lot of ourselves into the show,” explained Grindel. “The original cast has been there through the development of the show, suggested songs, and took on nicknames. We have ‘The Beast,’ ‘The Joker’ and the ‘Pub Bore’.”
He added, “As the narrator, I take them through the pub and introduce them to each of the guys with lovely spoken word and poetry. We talk about gentrification of pubs, community spirit, male stereotypes, being a bloke or a lad, brotherly camaraderie.”
While there’s plenty of testosterone on the stage, the cast isn’t afraid to question the outdated notion that men must be strong and silent.
“We make time for beer and dancing and jokes and there’s still plenty of heart to appeal to the masses without becoming gimmicky,” he said.
Audiences around the world have responded. Grindel recalled one family that saw the show three times during its recent residency on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship. The family then flew to Scotland to see the show again at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
“Because we play ourselves, we become friends with the audiences,” he noted and the cast is looking forward to making more friends in South Florida when the production turns the Parker Playhouse into a rollicking English pub.
“The Choir of Man” will be presented at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. 8th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $23 at ParkerPlayhouse.com