If you travelled back as far as Ancient Greece or even more recently to Shakespeare’s time, you could enjoy plays with songs and musical interludes. But you’d have to wait till the 1800s for musical comedies to flourish.To paraphrase theatrical legend Bob Fosse, ‘When the emotion becomes too strong for speech, you sing, when it becomes too strong for song, you dance’. If you enjoy the frisson of suspending disbelief, or fancy dipping your toes into the delectable pool that is musical theatre, here are a just few (out of 172!) of your Edinburgh Fringe offerings!
Would you be tempted if your ticket included a pie and a pint? A Play, A Pie and A Pint will be performing in the auditorium of Ghillie Dhu, with “Scotland’s greatest invention and storyteller, The Toilet!” taking centre stage! “From award-winning duo Noisemaker, SCOTS is an irreverent and rousing musical journey through the history of Scotland, that replays some of our nation’s most iconic (and forgotten) stories to answer the fundamental question: What makes a country?”
If your family holiday this year has been scuppered by certain heat-related events, this 13 year old budding climate-change campaigner would empathise. “ When a huge storm hits her seaside town of Skiddle, Chrissie reluctantly gets roped into helping a strange old lady. To Chrissie’s surprise, she finds an unlikely ally with a big secret.” Enjoy duo Geologise Theatre’s Chrissie and the Skiddle Witch: A Climate Change Musical at Greenside@Riddles Court with “their unique blend of storytelling, science and songs in this warm and funny show about a family trying to adapt to a changing world.”
Flying the LGBTQ+ flag at the Traverse Theatre, “abseiling lesbians” feature in new After The Act (A Section 28 Musical). “Section 28: the landmark legislation that silenced a generation and offered a global blueprint for LGBTQ+ oppression. Two decades after its repeal, multi award-winning theatre company, Breach Theatre sing and dance on the grave of this watershed moment in LGBTQ+ history.”
At the Assembly Rooms, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will be showcasing this country’s future generation of musical theatre performers in Edges from the creators of The Greatest Showman, La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen. “In the modern age of social media and information overload, this charming, witty and honest examination of adulthood in your early 20s explores what happens when we are teetering on the edges of our lives, and asks who we are, and what will we become.”
Returning to the Fringe, and for little ones aged 3 and over, Siobhan Argyle and Anam Alba Creative’s 45 minute The Little Iceberg Musical playing at theSpace @ Symposium Hall is one to consider. “ The little iceberg holds a secret. She’s not just cold and lonely. She’s frightened too. This is the metaphorical story of a child who is able to embark on a journey of healing because she no longer has to cope with loss and trauma on her own.”
Broken Instruments “is a unique storytelling and musical experience. Told through the writings of fictitious character, Ari Vander, it chronicles true events which took place during the Holocaust, and which made survival possible through the power of music. Broken Instruments helps keep alive the stories of suffering, gross injustices and prejudice which still permeate society today.” Head down to Greenside @Infirmary Street for 50 minutes of acoustic storytelling.
Visit the Space @ Niddry St and theSpace @ Venue45 for an hour of fun and indulge in Gillian Lacey-Solymar & High Drama Productions’ new historical musical IrrePRESSible which “tells the story of two women, 200 years apart, on either side of the voracious press machine. Written in pithy verse set to an energetic score, the show centres on the life of the world’s first celebrity, Emma Hamilton, seen through the eyes of a present-day journalist transported back in time.”
This year, Army @ The Fringe will be hosting a contemporary new musical written by serving Scottish soldiers and veterans. “Using a mixture of modern contemporary music, drama, video/DVD and pictures, Warriors shows how these Scottish soldiers deal with life – from training and relationships at home to the fast pace of operations away from loved ones.”
If you’re in the mood for a 1 hour single-man show weaving narrative and theatrical forms, Blossoming (You Undo Me) “about a young Chinese man growing into his queerness” is just the ticket. Performed at The Gilded Balloon, this production “reflects a coming-of-age tale, an immigrant’s journey, a chronicle of one family’s changing dynamics, and a sexual awakening.”
Led by a Scottish team and cast and receiving its premier is Carmel Owens’ A Mirrored Monet. Using music and projections of the era, Greenside @ Nicolson Square is transformed into France’s Belle Epoque where we “find Monet in his Giverny artist’s studio working on what will become his greatest series of paintings. As the front line of WWI advances, the artist escapes to his memories and we are transported through the cafés and salons of late 19th century Paris.”
C Venues C aquila has a treat for biography lovers! Sue Casson’s kaleidoscopic musical drama Two Tigers celebrates the centenary of the death of New Zealand-born modernist writer Katherine Mansfield “who lived and died with the Furies at her heels and her turbulent love affair with John Middleton Murry, who ensured her legacy.”
An uplifting, moving and thought-provoking new musical about code breaking genius Alan Turing is making its Edinburgh Fringe debut. “Through his work, he gave himself to his nation and was hailed a hero. But privately, his life was a torment of desire and shame because of the cruel and draconian anti-homosexuality laws of that very same nation.” Be sure to see Alan Turing – Guilty of Love at the Hill Street Theatre.
Remember, these are just a few of the incredible musical theatre shows on offer this year at the Fringe. Have fun exploring!
Leo Miles has just relocated to Edinburgh following a 10 year musical theatre career in London’s West End.