Preview for the week 16-22 November

Nov 16 2009 | By More

It is something of a music week in Edinburgh’s theatres this week. There’s Variety from the Gang Show, concert performances and dance in the Traverse’s Autumn Festival, the continuing presence of Queen’s musical and the arrival of Scottish Opera at the Festival Theatre. Oh, and one piece of (relatively) straightforward theatre from the Edinburgh-based acting collective, Actors Kitchen up at the GRV.

The major event of the week has to be the fiftieth appearance of Edinburgh’s Gang Show at the King’s Theatre from Tuesday 17th until Saturday. The current Director, Andy Johnston, was largely responsible for bringing the show up to date when he took over the helm in 2003. He got rid of the worst elements of the Gang Show cliché – but kept the best with its roots in Variety and Music Hall. This year he has something like 200 performers to cope with, as well as many as can be found of those who have taken part in the show over the last half century.

Also on Tuesday, the Traverse’s Autumn Festival kicks off with the appearance of Music Theatre Wales and Letter of a Lover Betrayed for one night only. Isabel Allende’s unabashedly romantic short story has been transformed by Jamaican born composer Eleanor Alberga and librettist Donald Sturrock into an intimate yet intensely powerful chamber opera, glowing with vivid, exotic rhythms and a rich orchestral pallet.

The Festival continues on Thursday when the Red Note Ensemble’s Autumn Concert Tour see the modern music ensemble step up from their regular Monday Noisy Nights series with their first full length concert programme.

The Festival’s Welsh link continues over the weekend with the National Dance Company of Wales bringing a pair of new pieces on Friday and Saturday. Nigel Charnock’s first work created for the Company, Lunatic, takes its inspiration from the glamour era of the 1940s and 1950s. Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis also makes his Company debut with a provocative and inspiring new work.

Tuesday also sees the first night of the Actors Kitchen’s new production, In Transit. This devised ensemble drama is about how the ripples of big events can unwittingly effect everyday lives when a Libyan Airbus takes off on an unscheduled flight, transporting Al Megrahi home. Nine actors and five writers were involved in the project which is the first public work from the collective which was formed just over a year ago.

Scottish Opera takes centre stage at the Festival Theatre over the weekend with The Italian Girl in Algiers on Saturday and The Elixir of Love on Sunday.

Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers (also on Wed 25 and Fri 27) is a new co-production with New Zealand Opera. Colin McColl’s cheeky take is a riot of bunny girls, beach balls, and small screen heroes with big screen egos. Set in a TV studio during the filming of popular Latino soap, Algiers, the show pits Rossini’s typically playful and lyrical music against the shoreline shenanigans of cast and crew. Donizetti’s Elixir of Love (also Thurs 26 and Sat 28) is a revival of Olivier award-winning Giles Havergal’s funny and gorgeously colourful production first seen in 1994.

Friday marks the first sighting in Edinburgh of Panto Season, with Sinbad the pantomime featuring The Little Mermaid opening for previews. The Panto season seems to start earlier every year although Musselburgh, where The Edinburgh Evening News’ Arts Editor Liam Rudden continues to write and direct, has the excuse of celebrating its 30th anniversary with a big Gala Performance on Saturday.

Queen Musical We Will Rock You, continues at the Edinburgh Playhouse where it is in residence until January 10, 2010.

Thom Dibdin

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