By 10:30pm at the Edinburgh Fringe, my brain starts to get more than a little mushed, partly because I’m in denial about getting older and still accept offers of alcoholic beverages whenever made, such that I’ve been imbibing periodically since lunchtime, and partly because I’ve been in and out of Fringe venues since as early as 10:00am. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘half day’. With various shows covering various subjects, there’s frankly something very enticing about an hour of wall-to-wall music, with a variety of songs, most of which are familiar, with some more obscure selections thrown in. This late-night show is just the tonic (to borrow the name of another Fringe venue) at the end of a busy day.
It helps, too, that everything is sung to such an incredibly high standard by a company of five ladies – in no particular order, Nicola Meehan, Rachel Flynn, Danielle Logan, Jessica Nolan and Sarah Innes – who sound just as glorious individually as they do collectively. That isn’t always the case: I’ve even seen West End principals group together with mixed results. Not here. It’s banger after banger after banger, delivered with passion and verve throughout.
The music (the singers are supported by a small band) and lyrics are allowed to speak for themselves, allowing the audience to gain maximum enjoyment. The sheer number of songs crammed into an hour is impressive, as is the breadth, ensuring there’s something for almost everyone, from ‘Let Me Be Your Star’ from the musical television series Smash, to Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ to what must have been approximately half of Carole King’s iconic Tapestry album, presented in the form of a medley.
There are no introductions, no context supplied to any of the songs, and no rambling backstories about, for instance, somebody’s relative, no longer with us, loving the title song from the motion picture The Rose and what it meant to others within a singer’s circle of friends and acquaintances. Some may wish there was a bit of audience interaction. Not me. This show works perfectly just as it is, with some movement and choreography here and there but never overdone. Stripped-back versions of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is A Place on Earth’ and Cher’s ‘Life After Love’ brought a more chilled atmosphere, which balanced out the power ballads like ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and Jim Steinman’s ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’.
Top marks for a show I have spectacularly failed to find any weaknesses in. I’m seriously hoping I can squeeze in a return visit before my time at the Fringe draws to a close.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Divas: From Stage to Screen
Rose Theatre, Main Stage, 10:30pm (1 hour)
Until 28 August 2022
BBD Productions return to the Fringe to premiere their new show, Divas, after their five-star sell-out run in 2019. Join a live band and cast of fierce beltresses to celebrate music, movies and musical theatre. From Carole King to Cher, Katy Perry to Kerry Ellis and Patti LuPone to Pink we can guarantee there will be something for everyone in this high energy, fast paced celebration of the greatest Divas of all time.