Emmie Newitt

Interview with Sam Ebenezer, THE CHOIR OF MAN

THE CHOIR OF MAN has captivated audiences with its uplifting spirit and infectious joy since 2017. Now a global phenomenon, THE CHOIR OF MAN takes audiences on a captivating journey through a pub setting where the audience becomes part of the action. We find out what it's like to be involved with one of the most exciting productions from Sam Ebenezer who is a Swing in the West End production.

sam ebenezer choir of manSam Ebenezer headshot.

Can you begin by telling us a little bit about how you would describe The Choir of Man to people?

The Choir of Man is a 90 minute show based in a pub (with an on stage bar where you can get a drink before the show) which is an uplifting celebration of community and friendship. There isn’t a storyline as such, but throughout the show you get to know each character as we go through a wide variety of songs, from ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ to ‘Somebody to Love’, from ‘Dance With My Father’ to ‘You’re The Voice’. There really is something for everyone in this show.

You're a Swing on this production, for those who don’t know what that means, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Swing is another word for understudy/cover. It’s my responsibility to play various roles in the show when the cast are on holiday, ill or injured. This means I could know months in advance if I am playing a role on a certain date, or find out that morning, even sometimes thrown on during the show in the case of an emergency.

As a Swing, is it difficult to learn a variety of different roles in one job as proposed to a specific one?

This is the first time I have been swing, and it’s by far the most difficult job I have ever done. Not only do I need to remember the blocking and various harmonies and vocal lines, but as all roles play various musical instruments I have to play 6 different instruments across the 4 roles I cover, 4 of which I had never played before doing this job.

The Choir of Man has an epic collection of music - what is your favourite one in the show and why?

I always find this question difficult to answer because I go through stages of which song is my favourite. But for me, you can’t beat the two a cappella numbers in the show ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Parting Glass’. Not only are these arrangements clever and enjoyable to perform, but it’s also an opportunity for the 9 roles to come together and sing as one.

This show sits within a pub setting - do you have a specific pub in your hometown that holds a special place for you?

There are a few… when you grew up in one of the towns with the most pubs in a square mile in the UK, it’s hard not to have visited most of them and it be a part of my life. Rummers used to be an old favourite, with the Ship and Castle, Academy and the Pier being firmly on that list too. But for me, I learned about the importance of pubs in society and how much it brings a community together by spending many nights and Sunday afternoons in my two local pubs in my village, the ‘Llew Gwyn’ and ‘Llew Du’ (‘White Lion’ and ‘Black Lion’). It doesn’t matter whether you are 9 days old or 90 years old in these pubs, we all look out and care for each other, where everyone is as good as family.

There are characters in this show, is there anyone that you would say you particularly align with?

As a swing, one of the challenges has been to try and find a variation between the characters that I play, as well as being myself in all the roles. Each role has a character name, but I am called by my real name, regardless of who I am playing. So, I have been trying to find aspects of my personality to suit each character I cover. For example, the ‘Joker’ is high energy and mischievous, ‘Romantic’ needs a bit more heart and ‘Maestro’ gives me the chance to let off a bit of steam if I need to.

The Choir of Man also has some audience participation involved, what can audiences expect (without too many spoilers) and have you had any funny experiences in particular?

Audience interaction is a big part of our show, and for me, that’s what makes the Choir of Man unique and a special night out. Without giving too much away, one of the funniest audience participation moments I witnessed was a women nearly spitting out her beer everywhere in shock whilst being serenaded.

Behind all of the music and fun, what is an important message from this show that maybe the audience wouldn’t expect?

The heart of this story is how The Jungle is a safe space for people to gather and be themselves, especially as men, we want to create an environment where everyone is welcome and a community to be themselves. The show is partnered with CALM, a suicide prevention charity. This is the perfect partnership for The Choir of Man, because the show discusses male mental health and that it’s ok to be vulnerable and safe to talk.

What song isn’t in The Choir of Man that you think would make a good addition?

As this show has a wide variety of songs in it, I think it would be possible to add a lot of different genres, but if we had to add another song into the show, I’d love for us to do another a cappella song.

Why should audiences come and see The Choir of Man?

The Choir of Man is one of the most uplifting, feel good shows I have ever seen and there are multiple moments in the show that you can’t help but join in. But also, this show also has a lot of heart, and a few important messages too. Great songs, a lot of talented performers and you can have a pint on the stage before the show begins… what more do you want!

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See Sam and the rest of the cast in The Choir of Man at the Arts Theatre.

Choir of Man Tickets