Musical Theatre Review contributor Fiona Orr offers her Top Ten Musical Theatre Tips for this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe…
A show promising ‘serious political content’ alongside zombies and how pints are cheaper in Yorkshire must be worthy of consideration.
‘Whilst at its heart a comedy, Tom and Bunny Save the World makes serious political comment. From stating that other countries can’t just leave the zombie-ridden UK to its own devices (a reference to the world’s continuing refugee crisis), to placing women in the sorts of roles which are usually dominated by men, Fat Rascal Theatre use the popular zombie concept to introduce a new audience to political theatre.’
Fat Rascal Theatre is an award-winning theatre company, and currently part of the New Diorama Graduate Emerging Companies scheme. They discuss social and political issues through an accessible and appealing format to engage a wider audience.
The piece comes from the same stable as Buzz – A New Musical which collected a host of good reviews in 2016.
Venue: Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8)
Dates: 3 to 28 August (not 14)
From Irvine Welsh and Don De Grazia with Laurence Mark Wythe, writers of this pedigree demand attention. When a former student, now an established star, returns to judge a songwriting competition in his former school, a tale of revenge and jealousy unfolds. Directed by Tom Mullen.
Venue: Pleasance – Pleasance One (Venue 33)
Dates: 2 to 28 August (not 15 or 22)
Billed as homage meeting parody, this show tells the true story of Matthew Crisson, the first non-binary kid to be crowned Prom Queen in the United States.
The show promises to take more than a passing swipe at the ‘State of the Union’ that is Trump’s America juxtaposed against the ugly duckling becoming the Prom Queen Swan.
Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate – Belly Dancer (Venue 61)
Dates: 3 to 27 August (not 14)
Treble Clef is the setting for this show for families – an island of music, song and dance with Kerry Ingram (Matilda the Musical) as Metro Gnome.
A range of musical styles from jazz to reggae, hip hop to swing, penned by the hit-making Hoosiers, are expressed by the island’s animal population.
The producers promise a show that will appeal to both youngsters and their parents. Sounds like a great introduction for younger musical theatre enthusiasts.
Venue: Pleasance King Dome (Venue 23)
Dates: 2 to 28 August (not 21)
This suite of two companion shows give a glimpse into the future of musical theatre from a different angle.
Continuing the ethos of bringing new musical theatre shows to Edinburgh, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland showcases its ensemble casts; this year exploring similar themes from two different national perspectives.
Building on past experience, the ambition of what to bring to the Festival Fringe has grown to include students from Northwestern University, USA.
The institutions launched their partnership in the autumn of 2016 and the productions were developed over months of transatlantic communications between the writers who were keen to find a story with universal themes. One idea they kept returning to was the question ‘is it a curse to stay, or a curse to leave your homeland?’.
A Scottish Story is a new piece from Noisemaker, examining what it means to leave home, to see the world contrasted with what it means to stay. Promising a soaring score, the production draws on the strengths of both American and Scottish students.
America and the Great War is set in the United States just before the First World War. Two African-American sisters uncover a complicated European ancestry. One sister disappears while tracing her ancestry overseas. The other must leave home for the first time to find her.
Venue: Assembly Mound, Rainy Hall (Venue 35)
Dates: 3 to 27 August (not 14 or 21)
Odd dates – Atlantic: A Scottish Story
Even dates – America and the Great War
Making the trip to Edinburgh (a transfer from Hull, UK City of Culture 2017): this show is built around the company’s own experiences with mental health issues and interviews with people associated with MIND and the Samaritans.
Olivier-Award winning Jon Brittain (Rotterdam, Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho) collaborates with Matthew Floyd Jones (best known as half of Frisky and Mannish) in a cabaret show promising tears – both happy and sad.
The show is a story about our hero Sally and a struggle with depression: hating herself, getting better, attempting suicide, before getting better again. Containing sketch comedy, classic storytelling and handfuls of glitter, A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is a story for anyone who has a brain that hasn’t always been on their side.
Venue: Pleasance Above (Venue 33)
Dates: 2 to 28 August (not 9, 16, 23)
An engaging, filthy, witty sideswipe at life from the abundantly talented Tamar Broadbent. Delighted to see her break into the Underbelly following years in the Free Fringe.
Join her increasing fan base and be prepared to laugh and smile all day after just one hour in her company.
Last year, her show we gave Tamar’s show ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ and I wrote: “A more pleasing hour on the Fringe would be hard to find. Laughs by the bucket-load – and you will look for her in the future. One day you will see her on TV and tell anyone who will listen that you ‘found’ her on the Fringe. You owe it to your future self to see this show!”
Venue: Underbelly Med Quad – Clover (Venue 302)
Dates: 2 to 28 August 2017 (not 14)
Haunting, evocative and beautiful – Mairi Campbell’s show tells her own tale of finding her musical soul: from her classical training to the joy and release of Breton music to the sound that becomes Pulse. A centring, lyrical and almost primeval story of our relationship with music.
Venue: Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30)
Dates: 3 to 27 August (odd dates only)
Achieving cult status on its last visit to the Fringe, this is an atmospheric, haunting piece telling the often unbelievably evil tale of the criminals from Chicago in the 1920s.
Venue: C too (Venue 4)
Dates: 3 to 27 August (not 14)
* Watch out for reviews throughout August from Musical Theatre Review…