Brighton Gay Mens’ Chorus: Divas

A delightful start to the Brighton Fringe Festival, BGMC always put on a good show, a full on evening of fun and song. And on this occasion the theme was Divas and there were frequent references to the fact that the platform  was full of them, their words not mine.

The first act started with a thundering rendition of Get Ready, a rousing start for sure but one that clearly highlighted a current misgiving that I have with the choir.

With a choir of this sort, a community choir, the remit is to work with what you have. Right now the BGMC have a rock solid section of the lower voices, a bounty of baritones and basses. The tenor two section is solid too but the tenor ones, that section so often scored to carry the melody, is less bountiful and last night reduced to five members. The resulting sound is hefty, good but deep, not unlike the sound produced by a traditional Welsh male voice choir. It suits well many pieces but last night, given a programme of pop it fell slightly short.

All this said there were some terrific numbers and some excellent arrangements from music director Tim Nail. Tim Nail is also their excellent accompanist and delivered throughout, on this occasion with no use of pre-recorded tracks.

On to the solos in last night’s programme. First though a mention for a brilliantly funny and well choreographed rendition of Love In The First Degree from Stephen Clench, James McGoldrick and Sadao Ueda. I was never a fan of Bananarama, talentless bunch of nanas in my view, but this version had me tapping my feet and beaming and was only let down by a technical sound issue. Andrew Farr gave a show stopping version of Mon Dieu as his alter ego Edith Piaf and made a few choice comic appearances in the choirs ubiquitous comedy interludes which on this occasion had some very funny moments despite one person not having learned their lines.

Jon Taylor never fails to entertain and his bonkers Bjork Oh So Quiet was great fun, he has real comic presence on that platform, sadly the vocal was oh so quiet, not him but a technical failing. Charlie Bedson gave us You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, beautifully sung and in a version that he really made his own. I enjoy the solos but I do crave the choir tackling a solo voice backed by the full choir at some point again.

The highlight of the evening in my view, and one must remember that a review is only my view, goes to a very special performance. Joseph Christophersen gave us an extraordinary performance of the Tina Turner classic Simply The Best. Not a choir member that I recognised from previous shows but one that I will long remember. His voice is fine, unusual in tone but very effectively deployed, but it is his phrasing that really stood out, this guy can really deliver a song with style but also with a depth of understanding. He turned a pop anthem into a moving ballad and the audience lapped it up.

I loved their second act outfits where they had all dresses as pop divas, some rather too convincing and others totally hilarious, in the front row a brilliant Amy Winehouse, some very convincing Petshop Boys who remained in character and a Lulu that made me roar with laughter.

Once again a good outing from a very good choir. Personally I prefer a more varied programme than a pure pop offering, one that shows their range of sounds and talents, but a fun evening none the less.

Andrew Kay

St George’s Kemp Town

6 May

Rating: ★★★☆☆


  1. Andy Wetherly says:

    I’m afraid you must have been at a different concert than us. We found it thoroughly depressing, nothing uplifting in fact every song seemed to have the life sucked out of it. I thought we were at a funeral service during some songs. They need to cheer up!

  2. A Chorus Member says:

    Your reviews are always very fair, Andrew, and normally I wouldn’t comment on anything negative you might highlight as we always take comments on board and learn from criticism. However, I can’t let this part pass:

    “…despite one person not having learned their lines”

    Please remember that BrightonGMC is an amateur choir. Very few people on that stage have had any drama training, with members ranging from carpenters to doctors via accounts, designers and pretty much any full-time profession you might care to think of. The format that these shows take means that rehearsal time is limited – usually just the 2½ hours each Tuesday evening which is, rightly, focussed on the singing – it’s not like we’re a professional theatre company with the luxury of 4 weeks full-time rehearsals.

    So, whilst I appreciate that you’re, maybe, becoming a fan of our “ubiquitous comedy interludes”, please don’t be so harsh as to aim your criticism like that.

    • Andy Wetherly says:

      It’s great they’re a community choir and I support that totally. My criticism wasn’t directed at the voices or the dramtaic training, rather the depressing nature of the arrangements.

      • Chris Gull says:

        I´m pretty sure that “The Chorus member” was addressing a part of Andrew Kay´s review, rather than your comment.

      • A Chorus Member says:

        Hey Andy, my comments were directed towards the author of the review, Andrew Kay.

  3. Elaine Evans says:

    I too loved the show. The boys pushed things further than ever with their diva appearances in act 2. Andrew, you commented on the front row – how could you miss the great Freddie Mercury? !!

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