WORCESTER — As a cast member of "The Choir of Man," Joshua Lloyd has to have several salient skills, including singing and dancing.
Also, "I can pour a pint," Lloyd noted.
He is, after all, The Barman in "The Choir of Man," a show that is set in a pub and features nine men with names such as The Pub Bore, The Hard Man, The Joker and The Poet.
The first drinks were served when the show debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2017.
"The Choir of Man" was conceived by Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay based on Doodson's experiences of male camaraderie, pub music and pub culture. With pub tunes, folk, rock and Broadway numbers, the show quickly became a phenomenon.
Currently on its third U.S. tour, "The Choir of Man" comes to The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts for a performance at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6.
In addition to being able to pour a pint of beer properly, Lloyd gets to sing his solo number, "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)", as a Piña Colada is being made on the stage.
Leicester, England, that is
Lloyd, who is from Leicester, England (a much bigger place than Leicester, Massachusetts), said he is in his fourth year with "The Choir of Man." In that time he has always had the role of The Barman. "I'm doing something right," he said.
However, this is his first United States tour, as it is for eight of the nine cast members who come mainly from England, Wales and Ireland.
The tour began in Utah about three weeks ago, and Lloyd was speaking on the phone from Huntsville, Alabama. Some stops in Florida were coming up next.
"It's getting warmer as we're coming down the country," Lloyd said.
The way the weather has been going, "The Choir of Man" will be in for quite a shock when the show comes to Worcester. A Hot Toddy rather than a Piña Colada might be something Lloyd could consider mixing up behind the bar. But he was undaunted by the winter prospects. "We're looking forward to it," he said of bringing the show to The Hanover Theatre.
"We've had a really good reception from you guys," Lloyd said when asked how the U.S. tour has been going so far. "You really get the show. I think you guys in the U.S. have a a similar pub culture to what we do in the U.K."
Indeed, perhaps all the world's a pub, as Shakespeare might have put it.
"I think the amazing thing about the show is it is so universal. Everyone has been in a pub. You can just relax and just enjoy yourself," Lloyd said.
But as for the ultimate secret to the show's success, "If we could bottle it up and sell it, I'd take a good cut," Lloyd said.
From the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, "The Choir of Man" went to the Adelaide Fringe (festival) in Adelaide, Australia.
"One producer's Australian (Kay), one is English (Doodson)," Lloyd said.
Lloyd has been with the show at Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Albert Hall in London, at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, and around the world, including on cruise ships.
"It's going from strength to strength, and we're very proud of our little show," Lloyd said.
The name of the pub in "The Choir of Man" is The Jungle. While the show is mostly a musical experience, one of the characters, The Poet, "has some amazing speeches," Lloyd said.
The premise, as The Poet puts forth, is that men often feel they can't open up about their emotions. But The Jungle is a place where the men pour out their feelings by singing.
One of the opening numbers is “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses. Other songs besides "Escape" include "Hello” by Adele, "Somebody to Love," by Queen, Paul Simon's “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," "The Impossible Dream" from "Man of La Mancha," "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry," and "Wake Me Up" by Avicii.
The cast sing solos and in harmony. A lot of the singing is a cappella, but cast members can play instruments as well. There's plenty of dancing including tap, and jumping up and down on pieces of furniture such as the bar and tables and chairs.
Other characters include The Handyman, The Romantic, The Maestro and The Beast.
"People say they know someone who's very similar in their own lives," Lloyd said of the nine men. "It's very relatable and fun."
Raising the bar
In the early days, The Barman, working with an actual bar on stage, had beer on tap and poured pints for members of the audience, some of whom could also come up on stage and dance if they dared.
With COVID-19, that activity has been adapted, but the show has been able to keep running longer in the prevailing conditions than most.
"The last U.S. tour ended sooner than it was supposed to, but we were lucky. The show is quite low maintenance. We can adapt the show and make it work. U.K., Australia, we were very lucky that we could do the show," Lloyd said.
That includes trying to find ways to serve beer "in one away or another."
Lloyd had a calling to get involved with musical theater from the age of 16, and trained at the prestigious Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts in London.
"I've pretty much been on the road since," he said. Mostly that's been with "The Choir of Man" but he's also been with some other touring companies as well.
The show's United States tour will continue into March, and then it will be back to Blighty.
"If they want to keep me, I'll stick with the show. There are some things in the pipeline. Fingers crossed. So we will see," Lloyd said.
But all in all his career so far has been something to raise a glass to.
"I trained in London for musical theater, so hopefully I'll be able to continue that dream. I'm very happy it pays the bills. I'm very lucky do do what I do," Lloyd said.
'The Choir of Man'
When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester
How much: Tickets are $35, $45, $55 and $65. Call the box office at 877-571-7469 for more information or go to thehanovertheatre.org.
For Hanover Theatre COVID-19 safety protocols, go to thehanovertheatre.org/plan-your-visit/safety-protocols/
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Raising a pint at the pub: 'Choir of Man' on tap at Hanover Theatre