Interview: Robert Godfrey talks about his West End show ‘The Choir of Man’

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‘The Choir of Man’ is a musical created by Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay. Its setting is a traditional British pub called ‘The Jungle’ where nine men celebrate community and friendship through singing, tap dancing, and poetic meditations. They will sing hits from artists such as Queen, Katy Perry, and Adele. This show includes cast members connected to Brighton, including Robert Godfrey, who plays ‘The Beast’; Olugbenga Adelekan, as ‘The Pub Bore’; and Sam Pope, as ‘The Joker’. This show performed at the Sydney Opera House and has toured the US and Europe. This musical also received an Olivier nomination for Best Entertainment or Comedy Play. ‘The Choir of Man’ will now play at The Arts Theatre in London until September 29, 2024. In a recent interview, Robert Godfrey shared details about this unique show.

Tell me about ‘The Choir of Man’; what is it?

“It’s essentially the great night you sometimes have when you turn up at the pub, and everyone you want there is there. A big group of people you love all in the same space, you know it will be one hell of a night. There are two core themes, I would say, that are most prominent in the speeches written by Ben Norris. Those two themes are the importance of men’s mental health and the importance of having community spaces (such as pubs). For many of us, pubs are where we go to catch up with friends, to escape from our work, to form new connections, and to rekindle old ones.”

‘The Choir of Man’ has received a lot of praise; why do you think that is?

“I think the audience makes a real genuine connection with the show and the people within the show. They get to see real mates on stage having a good time, and they become part of that. It’s a real place of celebration. Equally, it’s a place where it’s okay to be vulnerable. On top of that, the music arrangements, the poetry spoken, the movement and dancing, it’s all top tier.”

Tell me about your character, ‘The Beast’?

“My character ‘The Beast’ is someone you’ll often find in the pub. They might look big, rugged, and burly, but they’re a big softy at heart. They have a lot of mothering qualities and tend to ensure everyone’s alright.”

What was it like performing ‘The Choir of Man’ in Australia?

“I performed at the Melbourne Arts Centre in the new year for six weeks. It was an incredible experience. One of the songs in the show is ‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham, which is a bit of an unofficial national anthem out in Australia. Our bass player and our drummer for the tour were two of his bandmates. Pretty cool to be on stage with them, hearing a full theatre sing the song back to us.”

You’ve lived in Brighton in the past; have you been in any Brighton theatre/music shows before?

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“I grew up in Cambridge and moved to Brighton when I was eighteen, where I lived on and off for roughly six years until I began my journey with the choir. I was involved in the Brighton music scene quite heavily during my years at BIMM, and most recently, I was working at the Brunswick in Hove. It’s a magical place, Brighton. It is where I did most of my growing as a musician.”

The Choir of Man will play at The Arts Theatre in London until September 29, 2024.

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