***** 5 Stars
In 2019 Allan Stewart the Kings’ Theatre Edinburgh’s longest serving pantomime dame announced what was to be his 6th and final big big variety show to mark his 60th Anniversary in show business. The curtain didn’t just fall on the end of the run but also the Kings as the first Covid lockdown took hold.
So much changed in those two years, and even the latest King’s pantomime was cut short, this clearly left Stewart and close friend Grant Stott believing that the King’s audiences deserved one more treat and to finally see Scotland’s greatest variety theatre once more back at full Throttle.
Therefore Allan Stewart’s Big Big Variety Show returns and what a treat it truly is! Opening with a fanfare from Andy Pickering’s excellent 8 piece orchestra and Stewart himself arriving on stage to a rousing ovation and launching into a rewritten version of “let’s get together” it’s pure class from the off.
Stewart not only provides the comparing duties but delivers a plethora of songs, comedy sketches and allows his friendship with Grant Stott to sparkle especially in the sketch featuring the MacRoberts Brothers. Two country bumpkins from Effin in the highlands, it still comedy gold. Grant Stott shines as Stewart pokes fun at his status as fully fledged actor in BBC’s River City.
Allan Stewart’s comedy timing is spot on and his writing is at its peak with topical references mingling in beside tried and trusted classics and its clear he understands how a variety show fits together but gearing it towards an audiences he can truly call his own. Allan Stewart is indeed a son of the King’s.
Of course variety is the name of the game in this production and it delivers in spades with Kings Panto Sleeping Beauty star Nicola Meehan (fairy) being the first guest on stage with a trio of songs that showcase her beautiful vocals that fill the King’s with ease and is all the more impressive as she is about to become a mother any day now.
Comedy and ventriloquism comes from Max Fulham a clearly gifted performer at the start of his career his characters ( a cheeky money and randy granddad)work there charms on the audience there are big things ahead for this talent. Final guests of the evening are “Big Men in Town” a quality Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute act. This is literally a mini “Jersey Boys” concert and thanks to the Andy Pickering orchestra has the entire King’s Grooving along.
Allan Stewart’s Aunty May even takes to the stage in wonderfully fun “Life Stories” which is apt as both Allan and Grant then pay an emotional and laughter filled tribute to the late Andy Gray. This rare moment of pathos takes audiences inside a friendship on which the annual panto extravaganza has rested on for over 20 years. We get to see something of the incredible force that Gray was and just how big his loss is not only for the Kings but the entire industry a truly beautiful moment.
Allan Stewart’s Big Big Variety show sets out to do two things! Prove that variety still has a place in today’s live entertainment world and that despite all that’s been endured since the last show closed that joining together to share in the laughter under the dome of the Kings is truly the best medicine.
With the King’s about to close for its renovation this really could be the final hurrah for the Variety show so grab those tickets now for an unforgettable night out.
Allan Stewart’s Big Big Variety Show, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 2nd April, for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/allan-stewart-2022