Æ News – Edinburgh Gang Show marks its half century

Nov 16 2010 | By More

Fifty years on, the UK’s biggest gang show looks to the future

By Thom Dibdin

The King’s Theatre unveiled a new plaque in the foyer over the weekend, marking the fifty years that the Edinburgh Gang Show has been treading the boards of the “Grand old Dame” of Leven Street.

It comes just in time for this year’s show, which takes place next week from the 23rd to the 27th of November. The first Edinburgh Gang Show took place from the 14th to the 19th of November, 1960.

    Gang Show director Andy Johnston examines the plaque commemorating 50 years of Gang Shows at the Edinburgh King's

Gang Show director Andy Johnston examines the plaque commemorating 50 years of Gang Shows at the Edinburgh King’s. Photo: Thom Dibdin

“Last year’s show was all about looking back over the 50 years that we have been going,” current director Andy Johnston told the Annals. “Now we can forget all that and get on with looking forward to the future!”

Johnston is widely credited with breathing new life into the old format, together with his musical director John Duncan. The team are taking on their eighth show together this year, after picking up and dusting off Gang Show founder Ralph Reader’s traditional formula back in 2003.

Otherwise Johnston is promising a lot more of the basic music hall elements which have made the show a must-see event. Plenty of topical gags, not doubt local but also getting their teeth into Cameron, Clegg and Gordon Brown.

The music this year picks up on the charts and modern, rather than classic, musicals. We Will Rock You, Sister Act and Our House will all get a look in, as will numbers made famous by Madonna and Alicia Keys. And with over 200  Scouts, Guides, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Explorer Scouts and Young Leaders all taking part, dance director Louise Williamson will have her work cut out.

BSL interpretation

Things have certainly moved on since Johnston’s first Gang Show, 31 years ago, when he met Ralph Reader. This year’s will be the first UK Gang Show to offer BSL interpretation and audio description, at the matinee performance on Saturday 27 at 2.15pm.

The BSL interpreters provide a linguistic and artistic interpretation of the show, while the audio describers support people who are blind or partially sighted. The describer meets audience members to explain the set and the performers to them with a verbal description, which continues during the performance via a headset. A touch tour, where audience members can meet the cast, and touch the set and costumes will also take place before the show.

Edinburgh Gang Show 2010 runs at the King’s Theatre, Leven Street, Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 November, 7pm. BSL signed and audio-described Matinee Saturday 27, 2.15pm (call 0131 529 6000 to book).

Gang Show Website


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