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Second Look: Gang Show 2012 Act 2

November 22, 2012 | By | Reply More

Pictures from the dress rehearsal and opening night – Act 2

The washboard band in Rhythm, a scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

Crazy For You The washboard band in Rhythm, the opening scene of Act 2 in the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

Photos by Scott Parker and Michael Walker
Words by Thom Dibdin

Act 2 of Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 opened with the whole audience wondering whether the gang could pick up where they had left off.

The first act had been a fine confabulation of songs, dance and comedy

It culminated in the laugh-out-loud hillarious Salmondella!.

Here, director Andy Johnston took songs from Brigadoon, the Proclaimers and even the Scottish World Cup Squad of 1982 with We Have A Dream, and added sparkling new lyrics to give his take on the rise to power, glory and pies of one Alex Salmond of Linlithgow.

Of course the second act could keep up the pace. Indeed, the opening number, Rhythm, went one step further – a tap step further. Starting off with a sweetly innocent version of I Got Rhythm, it worked up a storm – incorporating songs from Crazy for You to end where it began, but with the whole gang on stage, hoofing their way through a big ensemble tap routine.

I Got Rhythm The opening scene from Act 2 of Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 saw the whole gang take on a big tap number. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker.

I Got Rhythm The opening scene from Act 2 of Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 saw the whole gang take on a big tap number. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker.

Young or not-quite-so-young, this year’s gang seem fearless in the face of fantastic material. No matter what they are given, they are prepared to take on anything.

Not that Johnston was able to turn the show into his personal vision of what Gang Show could be in one go. It took time, but the results have been worth it.

Rolling Sean Hughes takes on Adele in scene from Act 2 of the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

Rolling Sean Hughes takes on Adele in scene from Act 2 of the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

“It has been a slow evolution to get to where I wanted, I couldn’t just go in and change things overnight,” Johnston explains. “Where we are now, there is nothing at all musically that I am scared of doing, that I think is too challenging or too difficult.

“We have a phenomenally strong production team in terms of the musical director and the choreographer. We are doing stuff in this year’s show that I would struggle to do with some of the adult societies in Edinburgh.

"Rock": A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo © Michael Walker

Rock A scene from Act 2 of the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker

“But the fact is that when you go in and you work with so many young people and you instill in them the idea that this is special, this is important, then they will invariably deliver,” Johnston continues. “They trust you and once they get beyond a certain age they lose that. There are things we are doing in this – bits of Crazy For You, bits from Blood Brothers – which are as good as anything we have ever done.”

Gold Medal - a scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

Gold Medal In the penultimate scene of Edinburgh Gang Show 2012, Johnson lampooned the Olympics, Commonwealth Games 2014 and the Scottish diet. Photo © Scott Parker

From the stalls, Johnston has made it look as if staging a successful gang show is easy. Meet him during the interval and the look on his face tells you that it is anything but.

“I started in 2003 and the reception was very good, it was very flattering, very positive,” he remembers. “But it is only very flattering until about Wednesday night. Then, I’m sitting there watching the show, thinking: ‘how the hell are we going to follow this next year! – I’ve got to write something else just as good as this!

“I got to 2005 and I had a block, I didn’t know what to do any more, that was when I fell back on my old writing partner Gavin.

“The major change I have done in the last nine years is that it is now about writing for people. We have the audition process. we go through it all, they will have chosen their songs and then we try and match people to songs.

“As a writer I tend to cast things and then  write the sketch around the people I have cast rather than write something and try and fit the people to the thing I have done.”

The finale of Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 Photo © Michael Walker.

Finale Director Andy Johnston says of the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 finale: “One of the things I like to do is avoid any uniform until you get to the finale. Then you are realise ‘My god! These people are scouts and guides and they have been scouts and guides all the way’. And look how good they all are!” Photo © Michael Walker.

The first part of this feature – with pics from Act 1 –  is here: alledinburghtheatre.com

The review of the whole show is here: alledinburghtheatre.com/

ENDS

 

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