Hashtag #GangShowDay as Gang Show hits King’s
The return of the Edinburgh Gang Show to the King’s Theatre this Tuesday signals the turning of the season more, even, than the John Lewis Christmas advert.
The Gang Show is the last show at the theatre before the Pantomime kicks off. And like traditional Scottish pantomime, the Gang Show has its roots firmly in musical hall.
Where Gang Show beats panto – traditional or otherwise – into Puss in Boots’ big cocked hat, is in its size.
This year there are some 260 youngsters in the Edinburgh cast – the main gang of over 100 older performers picked from the Scouts and Guides who are on stage every night. And the two wings of the junior gang picked from the Cubs and Brownies, who perform on alternate nights.
Tight-lipped as ever about the details of this year’s show, director Andy Johnston will admit it features the expected big mix of pop hits – this year from the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Bruno Mars and Sam Smith – together with skits that will undoubtedly have more than a hint of a Panda appearance.
Musicals will also be in evidence, with big tunes promised from the likes of Miss Saigon, The Producers, Memphis and Gary Barlow’s Finding Neverland. Not to forget the obligatory number or three from We Will Rock You.
Ahead of curtain up (on Tuesday, 7pm), this weekend is the big one – both for those who have been planning since curtain on last year’s show and those who have been rehearsing for the show since the auditions, back in June.
It’s a long build-up and the Gang Show facebook page has revealed some of the behind the scenes work which goes on. Such a Variety-style production demands several different costumes for each of the 260 performers, and each one has to be created (or rerefreshed!), prepared and fitted. The complex lighting plot demands a truck-load of lights, which are flown up into the King’s wings to light the show.
Andy Johnston, who took over as director in 2003, took time out from his enormously busy schedule to tell Æ what is bubbling away behind the scenes.
“The weekend before Gang Show is one full of tradition and hard work!” he says.
“On Friday night the Main Gang gather at The Studio of The Festival Theatre for the only formal event of the GS year. We have 28 new members of the Gang this year and this is when they are officially welcomed by being presented with their red neckie.
spring into action
“Each year, there are speeches about the history of GS in general and Edinburgh Gang Show in particular and three members of The Gang speak about what GS means to them, including this year our stage manager John Allan, who joined in 1973.”
November 14 is Gang Show Day – designated as such by the Edinburgh Gang as the date on which the first Edinburgh Gang Show took place back in 1960. And of course, this year November 14 falls on the Saturday before opening, and Twitter will be alight with the hashtag #GangShowDay.
“Saturday – Gang Show Day – starts with the excitement of the band call in the morning,” Johnston continues. “It’s followed by the only full run through of the show that we do. It’s the only time the Main Gang and the Junior Gang rehearse together – over 260 youngsters all working together – it’s great!
“On Sunday the massive backstage team spring into action. Thousands of costumes and tons of scenery are moved into the King’s, before the cast arrive for an afternoon to get used to the space and a full dress rehearsal Monday.”
Edinburgh’s Gang Show has earned itself a respected place on the city’s theatrical calendar, thanks to the quality of the performance it puts on. But as Andy Johnston reveals, the cast on stage might be huge, but their backstage support is easily as numerous.
“This is the weekend when everything we have worked on since curtain down last year comes together – when the huge Gang Show army is mobilised, all working together to hopefully give the cast the same brilliant, exciting times that so many of us remember from when we were in the onstage Gang.”
Edinburgh Gang Show 2015
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ
Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 November 2015
Evenings 7pm; Matinee Sat 2:15pm
Details and tickets from http://www.edtheatres.com/gangshow
Ticket availability: Tickets are selling well for all nights, but there are still seats available for all performances.
Edinburgh Gang Show on facebook: www.facebook.com/EdinburghGangShow
Edinburgh Gang Show on twitter: @Edin_Gang_Show
Gang Show is an institution which makes and takes pride in a tradition of performance and excellence. All Edinburgh Theatre says a traditional “Break a leg!” to all performing at the King’s this week. We will be in the audience on opening night and look forward to providing a full report and proper critical analysis later in the week!