The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with more than 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
Almost everything you see about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is focused on its plays and comedy. We're certainly not complaining about that here, but one of the festival's best features is the diversity of its offerings. If your brain needs a rest from hard-hitting solo plays or your cheeks are hurting from laughing at edgy new comedians, and you're looking for something more comforting, maybe a little familiar—you can find some calmer fare in the Fringe's full spate of concert programming.
And as with all things Fringe, there's something for everybody. A cappella groups, classical music, electronica, classic showtunes—all of this and much, much more is represented in the Fringe's music offerings.
I attended one such concert, The Burt Bacharach Songbook from Night Owl Shows, who specialize in tribute concerts. I wanted to see something from this side of Fringe. And I'm, unsurprisingly, a fan of the songs of Bacharach and his longtime collaborator Hal David. Of course neither is a stranger to Broadway and musical theatre, having penned the songs to 1968 smash hit Promises, Promises and the decidedly less successful 1973 movie musical Lost Horizon (if you haven't seen this one, it's truly bonkers and worth the watch).
There wasn't much in the way of Bacharach and David's Broadway connections in this hour-long concert (beyond an excellent performance of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," which debuted in the score of Promises), but that wasn't any issue. Vocalists Angus Munro and Maia Elsey were on hand to sing some of Bacharach and David's best hits. Between songs, they gave a little context on how these songs came to be, and their importance to Bacharach and David's career—Pop-Up Video live, you might say.
Concerts live and die on the strength of their performances, and Munro and Elsey's abilities made this one soar. Both of them have really incredible voices. Most impressive was their ability to honor the performance styles that was intended for these songs while still adding their own, modern flair. To be able to do that while not making the performance sound suddenly anachronistic takes real talent and ability. Munro and Elsey were honestly giving world-class performances, which is particularly exciting when you've never before heard of them.
I had been racing between plays all day until this show came up on my schedule. I mostly found The Burt Bacharach Songbook a nice mental break and moment to breathe in an otherwise heavy day. I'm all for heady, challenging plays, but variety is the spice of life. Working one of these concerts into your Fringe schedule can be like a glass of lemonade on a really hot day, and exactly what you need to be energized for the rest of your day. It's also a great way to ensure you take in the full spectrum of artistry on display at the Fringe.
The Burt Bacharach Songbook plays theSpace @ Symposium Hall until August 27. Get tickets here.