Mark Ludmon previews some of the musicals and plays with music coming up at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe
At last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, everybody was talking about a new musical that told the story of Henry VIII’s wives. Cut to summer 2019, and Six the Musical is a West End hit with a string of award nominations and wins. So what does this year’s festival have in store? We select some of the musical theatre highlights as well as new plays and shows with music that we recommend checking out.
The 1999 cult movie Cruel Intentions, based on Les Liaisons Dangereuses, has been given the musical theatre treatment under director Jonathan O’Boyle, choreographer Gary Lloyd and music director Sarah Morrison. Featuring 1990s pop hits, Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical follows manipulative Manhattan step-siblings Sebastian Valmont (Dominic Andersen) and Kathryn Merteuil (Rebecca Gilhooley).
Assembly George Square Gardens, 1-25 August
Also making its debut is Friendsical, subtitled “A Parody Musical About Friends”, which its creators are insistent is “not to be confused with the Warner Bros Entertainment Inc series Friends”. It follows recently divorced Ross and his on-off relationship with Rachel… So it couldn’t be any more different to the TV show. It features original songs such as “(He’s Her) Lobster” and “You’re Over Me? When Were You Under Me?”.
Assembly Rooms, 1-25 August
The title of another new musical makes its intention clear. Cathy: A Retelling of Wuthering Heights is an adaptation by Michael Bascom, presenting Emily Bronte’s classic story of the passionate romance between Heathcliff and Cathy. It features new songs such as “Cathy’s Dream” and “Then Sounds His Voice” – check out snippets on the show’s website at cathythemusical.com. Try to catch it if you can – especially as it’ll be moving around Edinburgh throughout the festival.
theSpace on the Mile, the Space @ Niddry Street, theSpace @ Venues45, 2-24 August
Two new musicals under the title of Limbo have been commissioned by the American Music Theatre Project and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, alternating each afternoon throughout the festival. Limbo: City of Dreams, by Finn Anderson and Tania Azevedo, is a modern myth, where a woman brings imagination back to a stony world, featuring pop-folk songs and a 15-strong ensemble of actor-musicians. Limbo: The Twelve by Casey Kendall and Jonathan Bauerfeld is another ensemble musical about a woman fighting for her life in front of a jury of 12 people from her past.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 1-24 August
Epic storytelling is combined with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score in Islander: A New Musical. As Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island, a mysterious stranger washes up on the beach, changing her life forever. Starring Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick, it uses looping technology to create an expansive, ethereal soundscape. It is conceived and directed by Amy Draper with a book by Stewart Melton and music and lyrics by Finn Anderson – one of the writers of Limbo.
Roundabout @ Summerhall, 31 July-25 August
After the success of their pitch-black musical comedy Buried, Colla Voce Theatre return to Edinburgh to present another new musical, You and I. With a soulful folk score, it tells us what happens when Fran meets the world’s first super-intelligent robot who ponders the origins of the universe, karaoke and the meaning of porn.
Underbelly Bristo Square, 31 July-26 August
Burnt Lemon Theatre, the team behind previous hit The Half Moon Shania, has created a show about Iva d’Aquino, a real-life American who made English-language radio broadcasts to Allied soldiers on Radio Tokyo during World War II. Taking its title from her nickname, Tokyo Rose sees five female wartime DJs spit piercing verse in a rap-packed musical that explores if she was the villain that the Allies made her out to be.
Underbelly Cowgate, 1-25 August
One of the most high-profile new shows of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe is Musik, a cabaret-style show written by Jonathan Harvey with songs by the Pet Shop Boys. Frances Barber reprises the role of Billie Trix who she played 18 years ago in the Pet Shop Boys’ musical, Closer to Heaven (currently being revived at Above the Stag in London). Billie shares memories of her over-the-top rock-star lifestyle in between songs.
Assembly Rooms, 5-24 August
Theatre-maker Teddy Lamb brings their latest show, Since U Been Gone, to Edinburgh, in association with HighTide and The Queer House. With an original pop music score, it promises to be a moving autobiographical account of growing up queer in the mid-noughties and finding yourself. It runs alternate nights with Mia Johnson’s solo show Pink Lemonade which explores female masculinity, lesbianism and gender identity through spoken word, movement and music.
Assembly Roxy, 31 July-24 August
Described as “a play with songs”, If You’re Feeling Sinister is a stage adaptation of Belle and Sebastian’s album of the same name, with a book by Eve Nicol and lyrics by Stuart Murdoch. It follows Boss and Kid: a reckless artist waiting to be found and an academic looking to lose himself, planning to pull off Glasgow’s greatest heist if they can keep their hands off one another and on the steering wheel.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 31 July-26 August
Ane City is described as a theatrical, poetic one-woman show that combines elements of Scots language, storytelling, song and comedy. It is written and performed by Taylor Dyson and directed by Calum Kelly of theatre company Elfie Picket, about a young woman returning to her hometown of Dundee for the summer.
Assembly Roxy, 31 July-26 August
Hull-based theatre company Middle Child return to Edinburgh with their latest show, The Canary and the Crow. After previous hits such as All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, this is a new piece of gig theatre about a working class black kid gaining a place at a prestigious school. This lyrical, semi-autobiographical piece has been created by writer and performer Daniel Ward and uses grime, hip hop and theatre.
Paines Plough Roundabout @ Summerhall, 31 July-25 August
Honest Amy, or more correctly #HonestAmy, is subtitled “A Ukulele Comedy” and builds on the success of actor Amy Booth-Steel’s songs that have been viral hits on social media. She has teamed up with director Kathy Burke to create this new show, presenting her insights into everyday life while strumming on her life-saving ukulele. Amy first shot to fame as a wannabe Nancy in talent show I’d Do Anything alongside Rachel Tucker and Jodie Prenger but has more recently been seen in TV shows such as Year of the Rabbit and The Windsors as well as on stage including West End musical Heathers.
Pleasance Dome, 31 July-26 August