First Look: Gang Show 2012 Act 1

November 22, 2012 | By | Reply More

Pictures from the dress rehearsal and opening night – Act 1

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

Tonight… Tamzyn Craig leads off the opening scene of the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 with We Are Young. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker

Photos by Scott Parker and Michael Walker
Words by Thom Dibdin

Big, bright, bold and colourful, there are over a thousand different costumes for the Edinburgh Gang Show 2012.

In fact, the logistics for Gang Show are phenomenal. The main gang is 112 strong, with an extra 130 in the junior gang: two troupes of 50 brownies, who perform three of the six shows each, and a further 30 cubs, who perform every night.

The back-stage crew run to almost the same number, responsible for everything from wardrobe to scenery and running the show. But it is Andy Johnston who is in overall charge, as its director. A role which he has had since 2003, making this show his tenth.

Not content with making sure everybody is in the right place, Johnston writes much of the material. There is also strong artistic input from musical director John Duncan and dance director Louise Williamson.

"When I Grow Up": A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo Michael Walker

When I Grow Up A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 featuring a medley of songs from Matilda. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker

The secret of writing a great Gang Show, says Johnston, is making sure that you are on your audience’s wavelength and keep it simple.

Johnston lives near the King’s theatre. He recalls the days before he was Gang Show director and just a member of the backstage team. The week after the show he’d be standing at the sink doing the washing up and see packed buses dropping audiences off for the pantomime – when Gang Show had been playing to half-full houses.

The dancers give it their all in Viva La Diva - a scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

Firework The dancers give it their all in Viva La Diva – a scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

 

He realised that even though the pantomime and Gang Show have similar roots in variety, the panto was ticking boxes that the gang didn’t. It was a case of local material and dual writing, so that people of all ages can laugh at the same thing – although they might understand it in different ways.

"Brothers In Arms": Narrator. Ross Miller A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo Michael Walker

Brothers In Arms A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 featuring a medley of songs from Blood Brothers with Ross Miller as the Narrator. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker.

Brothers In Arms A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 featuring a medley of songs from Blood Brothers. Photo © Scott Parker

Brothers In Arms A scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012 featuring a medley of songs from Blood Brothers. Photo © Scott Parker

“For Gang Show you have to write about what people know about,” he says. “So some of the things I like which I have done have been a cinema sketch, or airport security, a furniture shop or a doctors waiting room.

“Whether you are a kid or an adult you can relate to all these things and the annoying people you meet in all these places.”

'Elf & Safety The junior gang get into their stride in the Christmastown! scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Dress rehearsal photo: Michael Walker

Elf & Safety The junior gang get into their stride in the Christmastown! scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Dress rehearsal photo © Michael Walker

 

Since taking over as director Johnston has bee concerned to make this a young person’s show. This year, for the first time, every person on stage is under 25 – except for a cameo appearance of the MD! In fact, such is the demand from youngsters to take part, that the average age is 13.

That is the question: The Doleful Dane a scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

That is the question The Doleful Dane a scene from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

It’s a change which makes for a much more vibrant show, as Johnston explains: “In the old days, because there were adults in the cast it tended to be you would give all the big songs to the adults. You had adults who had been there a long time who had become stalwarts because they had done it for years and years.

Salmondella! Alex tells Charlie he isn't needed any more in the Act 1 finale from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

Salmondella! Alex tells Charlie he isn’t needed any more in the Act 1 finale from Edinburgh Gang Show 2012. Photo © Scott Parker

“What we like to do now is, if you are 11 years old and you can sing the song then you get up there and sing the song. To me it is much more of a young person’s show than it has ever been.”

Young or not, this year’s gang seem fearless in the face of fantastic material. They are prepared to take on anything.

Continue reading, with pics from Act 2, here: alledinburghtheatre.com

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

Cont/….

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