Gang Show Lives!

Oct 31 2022 | By More

Edinburgh Gang Show is back, at Festival Theatre

The long-running Edinburgh Gang Show is back this week after the Covid hiatus, opening on Tuesday 1 November 2022 at the Festival Theatre with what its director says is the highest number of new recruits since the first one, back in 1960.

Edinburgh Gang Show celebrated its 60th show in November 2019 and plans were well advanced for the 61st, when the pandemic meant the cancellation of the show in November 2020 and again in 2021. Now it returns with a new venue and almost 200 news faces for 2022.

Edinburgh Gang Show finale. Edinburgh King’s. 2019. Pic: Ryan Buchanan

One thing which hasn’t changed is that Andy Johnston will be back at the helm, directing his eighteenth Gang Show. He is widely credited with breathing new life into the annual jamboree when he picked up and dusted off Gang Show founder Ralph Reader’s traditional formula back in 2003.

Johnston says “It is almost impossible to describe my delight in leading the Edinburgh Gang Show back onstage in the Capital. Since the curtain fell in 2019 all our lives have changed forever – especially within The Gang.

“Of the 122 members of the Main Gang, close to 100 have never been in a Gang Show before. Add to that the members of the new Junior Gang and we have just under 200 young people who have never performed together – and they get to do it in the fantastic Festival Theatre.”

Billy Youth Theatre

This  might be the first full Gang Show at the Festival Theatre, but it isn’t Johnston’s first time directing Gang Show members there. He and the then MD, the late John Duncan, joined forces with the Manor School of Ballet to stage the Billy Youth Theatre version of Billy Elliot there in 2010.

Now, Scotland’s largest stage is hosting Scotland’s largest Gang Show. Johnston says it is “beyond exciting” to be heading into a brand new theatre with a brand new Gang. And if this is the least experienced Gang since the first EGS in 1960, given their dedication and sheer talent, you would never know that.

Andy Johnston. Pic Andrew Perry

“From the very first rehearsal, the excitement and enthusiasm of this year’s Gang has been off the scale” says Johnston. “Every single piece of material we have given them has been devoured and delivered back to us with huge relish and commitment and with an obvious joy to be back performing after three years out.

“Singing, dancing and joking their way through this show, it is impossible not to be bowled over by their versatility – whether tackling material from sources as diverse as School of Rock and Billy Elliot to songs by Sondheim and Herman; or performing new material about Edinburgh or spoofing classical theatre and topical events – there is nothing this amazing group of young people cannot do.”

One of the great joys of following the Edinburgh Gang Show year-by-year is seeing youngsters come up through the ranks, shining in the chorus one year performing as soloists the next and often going on to become a part of Edinburgh’s thriving amateur theatre community.


Which, of course, often means that they also re-appear in the credits for the huge team of backstage helpers who create costumes, set the lights and keep everything tight so the costume changes for 120 performers go like clockwork.

“I genuinely could not be prouder to be back working with the fantastic extended Gang Show team,” adds Johnston.

“Whilst this is a Gang Show for today, we also pay homage to our history – while at the same time, giving the youngsters a unique opportunity to perform on the grandest of stages and set Edinburgh Gang Show back on course for the next 60 years and beyond.”


Edinburgh Gang Show 2022
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT. Phone booking: 0131 529 6000.
Tuesday 1 to Saturday 5 November 2022
Evenings 7pm; Sat Mat: 2pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.


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