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MP! at the Fringe: From a capella to awesome – the best music shows at Edinburgh 2016


Ed Fringe is almost over for 2016 so get yourself up to Scotland ASAP. Unsure about what Ed Fringe even is? Well, every year in Edinburgh, the biggest arts festival in the world opens up and people come from around the world to perform! There’s theatre, comedy, dance, music and a whole lot more.

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We had an MP! reviewer head on up to Scotland to check out the scene. To our delight, there were some insanely talented acts that you’ve got to catch before it end. It’s musical galore for all you theatre freaks.

‘Showstoppers: The Improvised Musical’

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Of the hundreds of musicals you can see at the Fringe this year, ‘Showstoppers’ is one of the best. And yet, the cast didn’t have months of rehearsal – they make it up every night on the spot! If you think improv comedy is impressive, just wait til you see a full improv musical. To ensure they can’t cheat, the theme and style of the show is decided from audience suggestions. When we attended, it was a musical set on a hippie bus in the 70s, with songs in the style of Sondheim, ‘The Lion King’ and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The plot was (understandably) a little confusing at times, but some of the songs were really catchy, and the quick-witted cast got lots of laughs.

‘Axis of Awesome: Won’t Ever Not Stop Giving Up’

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Comedy music trio Axis of Awesome have performed at the Fringe before, but this year they look a little different, as they explain in their opening number ‘The Elephant in the Room’. Lee is bald! Oh, and Jordan’s a woman now. The Aussie jokers take on transgender issues in their new show, but also bring back many of the hits from their previous shows and YouTube channel. Some of the jokes fell a bit flat, but the whole performance had a fun feel-good vibe. The highlight was their most famous song ‘4 Chords,’ where they basically prove that all songs sound the same.

‘Out of the Blue’

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Another group who have become kind of legendary at the Fringe is Out of the Blue, an all-male a cappella act formed at Oxford University. It’s basically a bunch of brainy boys having a laugh and making fun of themselves while performing a set filled with pop hits, past and present. They’re most famous for their cover of ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ by Shakira, and you might recognise them from ‘Britain’s Got Talent’  in 2011. This year they took on The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and mashed up two top tunes by Ariana Grande, ‘Into You’ and ’Greedy.’ The show might be camp and cheeky, but the boys are also very talented singers. If they don’t go on to be doctors and professors, they could actually have careers in music.

‘Gobsmacked!’

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Also providing the a cappella fix in Edinburgh this year is Gobsmacked!, a girl/boy group with members from all over the world. Taking inspiration from ‘Glee’ and ‘Pitch Perfect,’ they perform pop hits in an a cappella style. The highlight was the medley at the end, in which they raced through so many of our faves we could barely keep up. Gobsmacked! is more slick than Out of the Blue, and the performers are as good as any you’d see in the West End, but we would have liked to see more humour and personality from the cast – perhaps a storyline to give the show a bit of structure. Nonetheless, we highly recommend Gobsmacked! to any fans of a cappella pop acts like Pentatonix.

‘Ruby and the Vinyl’

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Edinburgh Fringe is a great place to discover new talent, including singers, actors and the creative people who put these shows together. ‘Ruby and the Vinyl’ is a new musical with songs written by Ruby Macintosh, a graduate of Liverpool performing arts school LIPA. It tells the story of Lily and Tom, two young people who meet in a vintage shop in Hull, and become friends. However, things get complicated as they discover each other’s secrets. The story was a bit confusing and got very weird at the end, but overall the show is sweet and fun, and the songs are really catchy. They were still stuck in our head the next day!

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