‘Packed full of entertainment, music and mayhem’: ALLAN STEWART’S BIG BIG VARIETY SHOW – Edinburgh ★★★★

In Concerts, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh – until 3 March 2018
Guest reviewer: Sarah Moyes

The King of Variety is back at the King’s Theatre with another fantastic show packed full of entertainment, music and mayhem.

Allan Stewart has become a legend on the entertainment scene in Scotland, and for his latest Big Big Variety Show he’s brought together some great showbiz names. This year’s line-up includes Edinburgh’s favourite panto baddie Grant Stott, comedian Fred MacAulay, magic comic Phil Butler and performances by soul legends, The Three Degrees, and his daughter Kate.

If wouldn’t be a variety show without a dabbling of magic, and variety entertainer Phil Butler brings a mix of magic and comedy to his King’s Theatre debut. While the audience does laugh along with him, his act is far from ground-breaking.

The final reveal of his main trick might be impressive – but its momentum is lost in a sea of people who have just spent 10 minutes throwing a beach ball around to get there. In fact, when the beach ball hits him in the face, it’s one of the funnier moments of his act.

Soul legends, The Three Degrees bring an air of nostalgia to the production, transporting us back to the seventies with some of their hit songs including ‘Dirty Ol’ Man’, ‘Givin’ Up, Givin’ In’, and the classic ‘When Will I See You Again’ which earns them their biggest cheer.

A special preview of this year’s pantomime Beauty and the Beast is up next, if the announcer is to be believed. Well, that’s if we’re to expect Stewart dressed as Belle hiding behind a piano that the audience is pretending is a rock – and Grant Stott acting as the Beast (from the East, of course) who wants to take Belle back to his castle.

The pair then launch into a rendition of Tale As Old As Time which has been renamed Trio Old As Time. It’s one of the highlights of the first act with lyrics about Andy Gray’s move to River City and the trio returning to the King’s stage later this year.

Act two begins with the return of the now famous McRobert Brothers. Stewart is Wee Boaby and of course towering over him, Stott is Big Boaby. There’s a few first night mistakes with Wee Boaby getting a song title wrong and Big Boaby forgetting a prop, but both are met with hysterics from the audience who lap up every bit of it.

Comic and presenter Fred MacAulay is up next. Despite being a household name, from the audience reactions to his questioning at the beginning of his around half don’t know who he is. However his observational wit wins round an audience happy to laugh at jokes about Edinburgh trams and why all lottery winners are fat. He then leads a super group of all the evening’s acts in a rendition of Daydreamer Believer with Stott showing off his drumming skills are part of tonight’s band.

If you missed any of Grant Stott’s Tales From Behind The Mic before, then he indulges us with some more recent stories from his time playing panto baddie Hibernia. He describes everything from his struggle to put on tights to his relief at talking off his bra at the end of the day, both of which the women in the audience understand only too well.
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Stewart then introduces his daughter Kate, who wows the audience with a stunning performance of Whitney Houston’s Run To You. For such a powerful song, Kate sings it with the kind of easy delivery that makes it look effortless.

Allan Stewart has one against proved himself to be everyone’s favourite entertainer. His Big Big Variety Show is a joyous night of entertainment that should leave you smiling for days.

 

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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.
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Thom Dibdin on FacebookThom Dibdin on RssThom Dibdin on Twitter
Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.

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