Edinburgh Gang Show 2019,
**** 4 Stars
“A fitting celebration of 60 years!”
For their 60th Annual Production the Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies once again take to the stage of the Glorious King’s theatre to deliver an evening of variety and spectacle and rather than marking the 60th Anniversary outright, (it wasn’t mentioned once during the performance) the gang are out to do what the do best and entertain and give the very best of themselves.
The Gang Show remains unique in the world of theatre making with no comparable’s to draw against and the Edinburgh is simply the biggest Gang Show still produced in the UK. It continues its modern formula of embracing modern tastes in its music, comedy and production whilst always tilting its hat in respect to those who have gone before, in fact Ralph Reader’s own material appears in 4 items in the 2019 production.
Leading the Gang in his 17th production is director Andy Johnston who also writes much of the material. Its his time as director that allows him to judge the show well and continues to deliver something very much for everyone. Although some of the comedy this year wasn’t hitting its stride on opening night, however it feels very much like pacing and delivery and should gather momentum as the run goes on.
Highlights of the 2019 show include. A highly moving and perfectly arrange mash up of “Falling Slowly” from Once the musical mixed with “Seasons of Love” from Rent. This is touching and emotional moment truly makes the audience think and gives the gang a chance to reflect on friendship and life away from the bright lights of the kings. The section “Mr Fahrenheit” lets the gang kick into high gear with a jazz infused tribute to Freddie Mercury and the music of queen. As in previous years Act 1 remains a tad to long coming in at 75 minutes on its own but as the show settles into its run it should tighten a little to compensate.
Act 2 has the true jewels in the crown for the gang this year especially “Wanna Dance” where Tatiana Honeywell builds on the success of last year’s performance with a simply outstanding rendition of Whitney Houston’s classic Honeywell has the west end and beyond with her grasp if she chooses to pursue a career are talent sparkles under the bright lights. “Born to Boogie” also fizzes with a huge tap number and nods to “Billy Elliot” this section truly shows the gang on form. Bringing the show to a close in traditionally staged manner with the full company on stage in uniform sees “Lady Gaga” mixed with “Ralph Reader” and it works wonderfully well. The closing of the show really sums up the joy of this modern gang show and makes for a fitting celebration of 60 years as the direction is set on the future.
The sound on opening night was nothing short of woeful, with far to many bang’s, pops, and at times the main gang working vocally together simply couldn’t be heard above the orchestra which given the show was viewed from the front stalls is poor, the gang deserve so much better, hopefully the technicians will get things sorted and deliver improvements for the rest of the run.
Other production elements continue to push the boundaries of the king’s capabilities, James Gow’s and Andy Johnston’s lighting design is simple excellent and delivers intimacy and full on stadium concert lighting when called for. Coupled with Alan Hunter and the wardrobe teams ever innovative costume design it’s a winning formula.
Joining Johnston in the production team is dance director Louise Williamson whose choreography this year becomes a true highlight of the production the trickier routines are performed by the core de dance with consummate skill, but she also ensures the entire cast are featured in the dance form throughout.
Musical Director Andy Thomson continues to stamp his style on the show and this year he and his orchestra have brought a filled out and rich sound to the music that fully supports the cast on stage thanks to the wonderful musical arrangements and orchestrations used.
The 2019 Gang Show does everything it says it should, the wealth of talent both on and off stage ensure that the Gang will still be treading the boards for the next 60 years ahead. Memories are a beautiful thing, and long may the gang continue to sail on the crest of wave and shape the lives of generations for years to come as well as making the most magical memories for gang and audience alike.
EGSPL productions present, Edinburgh Gang Show 2019, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Run Until Saturday 23rd November for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/gangshow