In the run-up to the Musical Theatre Matters: UK Awards ceremony that takes place tomorrow, Whatsontage.com looks at ten must-see musical shows at the Edinburgh festival. Whether it be musical comedy, plays with songs or full-blown musicals, here’s what not to miss before the festival comes to a close.

1. Fresher. The Musical

Up for three MTM awards, including Best New Musical and with a name alone that puts bums on seats in a fringe consumed by university performers, it seems they are on to a winner. Five students arrive at university and sing their way to find their feet; this is the only acceptable place for drinking songs.
Zoo Roxy, 6-30 August at 17.35

2. Hamlet! The Musical

With a name that might send some retreating back to their complete works in horror, this crassly named musical is far enough from the original and surprisingly astute to be a real delight. References to other musicals, an excellent cast and now a MTM Award nomination makes for far more than a mere bastardisation of the bard. Pleasance Courtyard, 4-30 August at 17.00

3. Operation Greenfield

Little Bulb’s answer to the hit-show Glee four students are brought together to form a warped and decidedly more religious club, resulting in a Christian rock band. This cast are insanely talented and as the music literally blares through the speaks, the audience marvel at the four actors who not only sing but play the accordion, banjo, xylephone, bass guitar, drums, harmonica, acoustic guitar and flute. Zoo Roxy, 6-28 August at 20.35

4. Obama Mia

This sell-out musical brought over from Ireland will have you in stitches as this slick and cleverly written production follows an actor who has to replace a comatose Obama in the lead-up to the election. This very well-performed ensemble piece certainly fills me with “Hope” for this young company. Just the Tonic The Caves, 5-29 August at 13.45

5. Frisky and Mannish - The College Years

If you saw their first show School of Pop - performed for one night only in the Udderbelly Pasture - you won’t be disappointed with this follow-up. They are very witty with their musical comedy but perhaps more impressively they’re also such talented musicians. Frisky’s voice is enough to send shimmers down your spine even on your 10th visit. Underbelly, 5-29 August at 21.00

6. Barbershopera – Apocalypse? No!

Leading the MTM Awards, alongside Fresher, with three nominations, including Best New Musical, Barbershopera Productions have another hit on their hands. As original as ever, they have created a new genre in the metaphysical musical. To divulge the plot would only do injustice to the inventiveness of this mad and madly gifted company. Pleasance Dome, 4-29 August at 22.55

7. Dead Cat Bounce - Too Fast For Love

With classics like ‘Christians in Love’ and ‘Enthusiastic Contraceptive Lady’, Dead Cat Bounce return to Edinburgh with their hit-packed new show Too Fast For Love. Even if you don’t have a funny bone in your body, you can’t deny the musical talents of this Irish four-piece rock band. Flight of the Conchords eat your hearts out. Guilded Balloon Teviot, 5-29 August at 21.45

8. Ovid’s Metamorphosis

MTM Award nomination for Best New Musical is surely deserved in terms of ambition alone. Set in WWII Britain it recontextualises Ovid’s Metamorphosis so absurdly and yet successfully that the result is one of a true spellbinding spectacle. With a faultless ensemble and foot-perfect choreography this is one not to be missed. Pleasance Dome, 4-30 August at 12.00

9. Another Someone

Listed as a physical theatre show, Rash Dash’s offering about attaining Happiness is actually happiest when they are singing. The cast all have superb voices and the music takes the show away from being a trite performance about an abstract noun, to an joyful and sometimes profound piece of theatre. Bedlam Theatre, 6-28 August at 21.00

10. Maria de Buenos Aires

Even if your Spanish is non-existent (and perhaps especially if your Spanish is non-existent) the evocative tango music that pervades throughout this bizarre and at times visually breathtaking show is the true driving force of the piece. In a place as drizzly as Edinburgh, this MTM Award nominated show uses stunning songs and a three-piece band to blissfully transport you to the sensuous sunshine of Latin America. Zoo Southside, 6-30 August at 20.40

- Tom Williams

ALL 2020 MTM: UK AWARD WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED AT THE AWARDS GALA HELD ON WEDNESDAY 25 AUGUST 2010, 3.30PM AT PLEASANCE BEYOND. THE EVENT, HOSTED BY MERVYN STUTTER, WILL ALSO INCLUDE LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM TOP FRINGE MUSICALS. TICKETS COST JUST £5. BOOK NOW AT www.pleasance.co.uk/edinburgh!!


TAKING PART IN THE VOTE: If you’d like to vote in the “People’s Choice” MTM:UK Award, you can do so via the form below. Before doing so, however, we recommend that you see several of the long-listed musicals before making a decision. Voting closes 24 August 2010. ONLY YOUR FIRST VOTE WILL BE ACCEPTED BY THE SYSTEM.

For full details about the MTM:UK Awards, including eligibility criteria and the full list of shows being assessed for consideration in 2009, visit the Musical Theatre Matters website.


For full coverage of Edinburgh 2010, including reviews, interviews, news, gossip, blogs, features & videos,
log on to Whatsonstage.com/Edinburgh!