It is a beautiful thing to witness children who love to perform shine onstage. On a cold and rainy night in Edinburgh, the Gang Show was the perfect pick-me-up, radiating warmth and humour. It is clear that each and every performer is having a great time, so it is near impossible not to smile along with them and get carried away by their music, as one piece seamlessly transitions into the next.
Older members of the cast are professional beyond their years. Several individuals can be picked out from the crowd as exceptional entertainers; I would definitely not be surprised to spot them starring on Broadway one day. The fearless soloists take on on ambitious numbers including Hallelujah, Waving Through a Window and Monster, and there are certainly powerful musical theatre voices amongst the cast just waiting to be unleashed.
At times, the orchestra can overpower the choral singing that the microphones don’t quite pick up; a little more diction and projection would have done the trick. Sadly, several punchlines from the comedy sketches were also lost on the microphones or were covered by feedback, but the ever-obliging audience of justifiably proud families laughed along nevertheless.
The bigger and bolder musical theatre numbers were unquestionable crowd favourites. Back from last year by popular demand, Donkey (played by Honor Dobbie) takes the lead in a revised version of Neil Patrick Harris’s Tony Award Opening number from 2013, Bigger. With confidence, attitude and a good intuition for comedic timing, Dobbie, accompanied by glamourous dancers and an eclectically costumed chorus is triumphant. I was particularly impressed by the dancing, couples mastered complex lifts with elegance and I’m sure there are some future prima ballerinas to be seen as well.
Perhaps some of the comedy sketches requiring audience interaction could have been edited a little; 2 hours and 40 minutes makes for a very long show. Most of the humour was well-placed and witty, but some of the skits could have used a little more rehearsal to keep up with the fast pace of the rest of the show. The excellently scripted, rhyming version of Robin Hood was very well-received. Featuring a band of feminine merry men in tights, classy solo performances and a surprise twist ending, this theatrical sketch really hit the spot.
With over 250 young performers to organise and over 1000 costume changes, the efforts of the backstage crew and costume team are remarkable. Director, Andy Johnston, has innovatively staged and arranged this enormous spectacle for the 16th year in a row. I expect big things next year from the show’s 60th anniversary. Keep an eye out for this show and the emerging talent it is sure to bring!
PHOTOS: Capital Theatres