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BWW Review: THE CHOIR OF MAN at Mimi Ohio

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A joyous way to reopen the theatre of Playhouse Square

BWW Review: THE CHOIR OF MAN at Mimi Ohio

Walking into the Mimi Ohio theatre for The Choir of Man was almost a surreal experience. After receiving my tickets, based on the self-imposed over year-long Covid lockup, my mind was bouncing. Do I wear a mask? How close will others be in the auditorium? Do I greet people by shaking hands, hugging, or by keeping social distance?

In spite of my being out of practice, all went well.

The familiar redcoats, with smiles on their faces, welcomed theater-goers by informing that if one had their Covid vaccines, there was no requirement to wear face coverings, but could do if desired. Seating was spread out so nobody would be directly in front of or next to anyone. Beverages would be sold by touchless methods of payment.

My emotional butterflies disappeared.

The Choir of Man, which is presently reopening Play House Square, has been called, "rowdy," raucous and resoundingly good fun," "faultless," "exhilarating," "wildly entertaining," and a "joyful romp." It is, as advertised, "80-minutes of unadulterated entertainment that combines high energy dance, live music and foot stomping choreography with the incredible talent of ordinary guys who perform everything from sing-along classics to classical rock."

The cast features tap dancers, poets, instrumentalists and singers, ensuring that there is something for everyone in this uplifting presentation.

The audience is greeted with an open curtain. The setting is an authentic Irish bar where everyone is invited "to come ready to drink in the action!" The performers wander onto the stage, greeting each other, yelling to the audience and passing out free beer to willing takers on long paddles to avoid contact.

It must be assumed that in past and future non-Covid days, audience member would be invited up to the bar and given the chance to tip-a-pint with the "town folks."

The cast is dynamic and care-free. They remind the audience that, "the more you drink, the better we sound."

Even without imbibing, it immediately becomes apparent that these are multi-talented young men. Switching from instrument to instrument, and able to sing every mode of musical style, they harmonize, sing solos of joy and remorse, tell jokes, tease and taunt each other, dance and reach out emotionally and personally to audience members, with enthusiasm and gusto.

One of the local theatre-folk described the whole thing as the musical Once without women or plot!

Kudos to creators Andrew Kay and Nic Doodson (who also directs), choreographer Freddie Hudelson and Denis Grindel, who plays the narrator and keeps the action centered and flowing.

Capsule judgment: It isn't Frozen, The Lion King, or Hamilton, which some local theater-goers might have preferred to re-open the theatres of Playhouse Square, but The Choir of Man is an evening of emotional song and dance, and a perfect selection to reopen Playhouse Square. The response has been so positive that the run has been extended until July 25.

For tickets, which cost between $59 and $79, go to: https://www.playhousesquare.org/events/detail/choir-of-man-2021


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