Q & A with Conor Hanley

Currently playing The Poet in The Choir of Man

As a new addition to the cast at The Arts Theatre, how have you found the audience reaction to the show so far and how is your first West End experience?

It's fantastic on both fronts!  Being on the West End had been a dream ever since I started youth theatre at the age of seven, so that first show was like an out-of-body experience.  The audiences always bring such incredible energy into the Jungle and it's a part of what makes Choir of Man such a unique experience.  So, it's safe to say I'm having an incredible time!

 

What would be your perfect night in your local pub? 

Watching the football/rugby with a few pints does the job for me.

 

Do you have a standout moment in the show?

The show has such an incredible energy and moves at 100 miles an hour throughout the night but my favourite parts are when we stop and have a quieter moment.  Whether it's talking about what home means to each of the lads or coming together to sing Chandelier, which we do acapella!

 

There are many popular songs in The Choir of Man including my personal favourite ‘The Pina Colada Song’!  Which is your favourite?

Being Irish, my favourite has to be 'The Parting Glass'.  We sing it back home for all those we've loved and lost.  As a cheers to those people.  So to be able to sing it every night and think about those who meant so much is such a blessing.  It's also a stunning arrangement and you could hear a pin drop as we sing it.  So it' altogether a lovely moment.

 

If you could choose any musical theatre role to play, what would it be and why?

Les Mis was a show that inspired me a lot growing up.  It led me to falling in love with musical theatre.  Javert was always a part I loved belting out in the shower!

 

You have previously performed with The Choir of Man in the US, at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Coventry City of Culture and on the Norwegian Encore. Have you found a difference in how the show is received at each place?

There isn't a massive difference I have to say!  The Jungle brings Irish and British pub culture across the world and people just love it.  They scream, sing, laugh, cry....the whole works.  I call it emotional bingo!  I have to say, in the US especially, they LOVE the Irish.  They don't really have this kind of pub culture so they absolutely love to be part of the experience.  We've had some WILD audiences in the West End too though!  People can't help but jump to their feet, which is fantastic.

 

Where did your love for performing start and what was your first professional role?

I fell in love with theatre when I started at 'Loughrea Youth Theatre' when I was seven.  It was such an incredible platform, not only for my future career, but for shaping who I was to become.  When I was fifteen I was cast as Gaston in 'Beauty and the Beast', muscle suit and four inch heeled boots included......that one made me want to do this for life.  My first professional part was a TV show actually, '1916 Seachtar Dearmadtha' on TG4 in Ireland.  I played a boy scout/soldier during the 1916 rebellion in Ireland.  I was sixteen so it was a fantastic learning experience.

 

Why did you want to be involved in this production?

I remember when the audition brief came through I nearly didn't go!  I had a holiday booked and I'd be missing the day of the callback.  Reading the brief I also didn't believe I could play any of the parts as most required instruments and I didn't play.  So it came down to a coin flip and a stern word from my mother.  Needless to say....I'm delighted I went.  I remember looking up videos of the show online and thinking that it looked like the most fun you could have.  Four years later....I can confirm that was indeed true.  So, a lesson learned, always listen to your mother, she knows best!

 

Who in the show is most like their character?

I'd have to say Mark Irwin as the Barman.  He was in my first cast in 2019 on the Norwegian Encore so it's been a journey with him it's fair to say!  Back then, he played the Romantic which he smashed every time but...his switch to Barman for the West End it makes so much more sense.  It's him down to a T!  That lazy, effortless charm is there in spades and backstage he has us all in stitches.

 

How would you describe The Choir of Man to anyone interested in seeing the show?

It's the best pub gig you'll ever go and see.  It's a show that, I think, appeals to everyone and anyone.  All are welcome through the jungle doors, we love that as a staple of our pub.  We perform such an array of classic hits that there's certainly something for everyone!  You'll be laughing, crying and everything in between.  It's a night that will have you leaping to your feet because you just can't help but move and dance.  The guys are all so incredibly talented and all bring their own skillset to the pub.  Tap dancing, top tenors, incredible musicianship and DAD DANCING.  It has a bit of everything!

Photo credit: The Other Richard

The Choir of Man is playing at the Arts Theatre, London and currently booking until the 31st August 2023

Tickets are available here: The Choir of Man | Official West End Tickets (choirofmanwestend.com)

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