Edinburgh Fringe 2014
McGregor’s infectious enthusiasm radiates across this foot stomping forty-five minutes of music for the 0-7s. And the oldies can join in too if they like.
Somewhere in a sea of small bodies, jumpin’ and jivin’ around to the jazz beat, is the mercurial Ali McGregor, singing for all she’s worth and getting the kids to join in the chorus on the microphone with her. Yet her inestimable jazz trio (keyboard, bass and drums) are showing no signs of alarm at having lost their vocalist on the dance floor. Situation normal, I suppose, as they strum and play along, convinced that she will re-emerge at some point, still in tune and on the beat.
But then Ms McGregor is a bit of a musical dark horse. The principal soprano with Opera Australia for a number of years, this superstar mum of two has moved latterly into cabaret, acting and, based on this morning’s evidence, is also a spectacularly gifted children’s entertainer.
Introduced to the stage by her four year-old daughter, McGregor uses jazz as her medium for what turns out to be forty-five minutes of pure musical joy. Ably assisted by the tartan-trousered Pedro (there to ensure that no-one sat down for more than about five seconds), McGregor launched into a series of songs in which audience participation (at full volume) was guaranteed. Kids love anything to do with jungles, farms, picnics and the like and can sense when someone is there to help them have fun. McGregor’s infectious enthusiasm spread like wild-fire through the audience of youngsters and oldies alike.
With frequent forays into the heaving masses on the dance floor, McGregor ensured that there was never a dull moment and was particularly adept at dealing with the unpredictable emanating from the mouths of babes and toddlers in response to her requests for animals noises, favourite things to eat and what to do on hot days, although there were a few blank looks at that point – this is Edinburgh in the summer, after all.
With Pedro working his socks off to keep people dancing, we trotted through a series of nursery rhymes set in a jazz style, some rock and roll to get young people bopping and one really clever piece that alternated between the slow and sleepy (and, yes, she could get the kids in the audience to lie down and be really quiet) and the horrendously jumpy.
As you can tell, this wasn’t one of those events where people clung to the edge of the dance floor, hoping they didn’t have to get up and shuffle around. This was an object lesson in how to entertain kids by capturing their attention early on and never letting it go, the sure sign of a class act. Indeed, one vision in pink chiffon was on the floor from the first number to the last, totally lost in the magic of the music and the moment. Her mother was outside afterwards buying a ticket for tomorrow’s show. You can’t get a stronger recommendation than that. This a perfect for those in the 0-7 age range to let off steam. And Mums and Dads can let their hair down a bit as well if they like.