Thursday, October 6

The Glee Club – Oldham Coliseum

Britain, 1960’s: a decade of change and of course the birth of the swinging sixties. The Glee Club, set in Yorkshire 1962, takes us right back to this era as we follow the story of six miners and their love of music.

The Glee Club is a six-man musical group, who come together to escape their daily lives and share their love of music with their friends.  They are preparing for the annual gala, but as they do, we begin to see their lives unfold, and change for good.

The story, although not action packed, is one of male camaraderie, friendship and troubles. The play begins and ends with narration from Colin: the youngster of the group, with a big voice and bigger dreams of becoming a pop star, but unfortunately doomed to fail as life has other plans for him. Each of the six men deal with their own difficulties throughout, from infidelity to sexuality and unplanned pregnancies, their individual tales are poignant and heartfelt. Combined with the effortless northern comedy, their tales provide a rollercoaster of emotions.

The play easily lends itself to northern audiences, not only with the humour it portrays but with the stories it tells of the miner towns and the men and their families who occupied them. The northern and occasionally raucous humour lands well with the audience. However, despite being described as a comedy, the play is ultimately a sad tale that ends in the separation of the club they all loved so dearly, and it’s recited how each of their lives changed following the events of summer 1962. 

The whole cast is brilliant, displaying not only a great display of acting talent but also musical. With musical interludes The Glee Club wows with beautiful, slick 5-part harmonies accompanied by live piano. Their operatic voices blended effortlessly as they provided vocals to a handful of popular old-time songs.

The set and staging are terrific and compliment the themes and story well. With exposed brick walls and a large wheel synonymous with minors and even working showers on stage that give the audience full insight into the male ‘locker room’ conversations.

The play, although not completely ground-breaking, does share elements of ‘Full Monty’, particularly with the scenes of nudity which itself makes the play seem to try a bit too hard to be a close resemblance of the popular 90’s comedy.  It’s a nostalgic tale that delves deep into the lives of six pit men, who beyond the manly façade are there for each other through thick and thin, and ultimately escape their troubles with the remedy of music.

The Glee Club is gritty, witty and poignant. An entertaining look at the real lives of miners in the 60’s and the joy music can bring.

Catch The Glee Club at Oldham Coliseum until Saturday 19th March,

Reviewer: Alison Ruck

Reviewed: 15th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★