Read Melinda's reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe here
Julie Madly Deeply, Gilded Balloon, 14.55
Even if you’re not a huge fan, this superbly delivered part-biography, part-celebration of Julie Andrews will entertain and educate you.
Sarah Louise-Young’s crystal clear voice and diction, not unlike Andrews' own, are pleasing on the ear and her sparkling delivery is first class. Considering Young is doing a grueling three weeks, it's admirable how beautifully she sung, for I would never survive such a schedule.
Julie Madly Deeply is a cleverly crafted hour of entertainment. Young proves to be a gifted mimic, wowing us with a superb Liza Minnelli and Audrey Hepburn as well as a plethora of regional accents as we are taken through Julie’s early life.
The recurring Edwina Trump character with her clipped BBC 1950s accent is quite astute and creatively applied in a novel racehorse commentary rendition of Andrew’s meteoric rise to stardom. There are also clever dramatic touches in the depiction of crucial and terrifying vocal surgery, done Mary Poppins style. Once that medicine has gone down, you'll be wishing for a spoonful of sugar.
Young gives us touching and heartfelt renditions of all of her favourite songs complete with a de rigueur sing-along at the end. There are some beautiful arrangements from Michael Roulston as well as some natural and amusing exchanges between pianist and singer, which I really would have liked more of; I found the show slightly too polished so the ad libs were welcome.
That said, tears welled up over the story of the actress Jane Darwell coming out of retirement to play the bird feeder in Mary Poppins, her last role before she died.
This show is an endearing gem with a feel-good factor to set you up for the rest of the day facing the Edinburgh Fringe throng.
Making News, Pleasance Courtyard, 13.00 until 25 August
I managed to catch one Edinburgh preview: Making News starring comedians Phil Jupitus, Liam Williams and Sara Pascoe.
Making News in the satirical style of Drop the Dead Donkey reveals a secret cult allegedly run from inside the BBC causing its website to crash. It features some surprisingly out of date jokes such as a dying Pope and given the presence of such savvy comedians there should have been more current references in the throwaway lines.
That said, there were some entertaining situations, plenty of in-jokes and an entertaining stand-off between the current affairs department and the news desk, each up to their tricks to undermine each other.
Jupitus gives a strong performance as the director general but one could really see the difference between TV comedians such as Sara Pascoe and Liam Williams, used to working with a mike, who were slightly low in volume and stage presence. as opposed to trained actors who projected with dramatic conviction, like Suki Webster, who gave a convincing performance as the new head of news, and Hal Cruttenden as the superbly vain and egotistical yet slightly dim anchorman.
Adam Buxton: Kernel Panic, Assembly Hall, 22.30 until 7 August (pictured left)
Since his Adam and Joe 6 Music live days Buxton has gathered a large following and the 1,000-seater Assembly Hall was completely sold out. This clever, quirky insight into Adam’s laptop had visual gags such as drop-down menus including '70’s entertainers who aren’t abusing people' and 'the funny side of my terminal illness' and they provided many layers of amusement without verbal explanation.
Adam’s main love is music and his in-depth research of comments on YouTube pop videos were up-to-the minute given the current trolling situation. He lampoons avant-garde electro music and Radiohead and tells us of his deep love for David Bowie.
Some segments on the YouTube comments were a little long but his ongoing struggle in the technological age is astute and funny. There were plenty of in-jokes for the musos and the comedians in the house but the highlight was a hilarious story about an emergency visit to the NHS with earache.
Rich Hall: Hoedown, Assembly George Square, 23.00 until 25 August
I laughed until I cried last night. Hall’s genius on-the-spot lyrical rhyming is raucously entertaining and very clever. This late night country and western hoedown backed by a three-piece band is the best thing I have seen at the Fringe so far.
Hall (pictured left) is a pro, entertaining us with songs about his home in Montana, obese women in Wranglers, lost love, how Americans abused single malt whiskey turning it into Jack Daniels as well as his love for Scotland and its unpronounceable towns.
He picks on members of the audience and wings songs about their lives, all bound together cowboy-style. With the overall theme of romance, it makes for an entertaining probe into people’s relationships so if you’re on a date don’t sit in the front row. Coupled with some superb observations on the technological age, Hall’s songs delivered with a wink, a growl and a smile makes it one hell of a hoedown.
Hall is on the ball with a musical spontaneity that any comedian would give their eyeteeth for. Backed by top class musicians – Rob Childs, James Morgan, Mark Hewitt and guest sister act, the talented Ellie and Immie Mason – they create a great vibe on stage and a cheeky feel-good factor. Highly recommended.
Melinda Hughes is appearing in her cabaret, French Kiss, at the Surgeons' Hall in Edinburgh from 6-10 August at 20.20.