Allan Stewart’s Big, Big Variety Show at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
In Edinburgh last night the buzz on the bus was Allan Stewart (for those who don’t live in Edinburgh, everyone uses the buses, because the service is second to none). He’s a phenomenon, loved by everyone in Scotland and since seeing him in panto last Christmas, by me too.

I don’t suppose many critics - who are known largely but not always accurately for being critical – show their appreciation like I did last night… laughing (loudly) till my face ached and whooping with sheer joy at the good, old-fashioned entertainment this country is famous for.

Glasgow, where Stewart was born, is, or rather was, the home of variety. It spawned comics like Stanley Baxter and Rikki Fulton, and it had to be good. Many visiting artistes were lucky to get out alive if their audiences at the Glasgow Empire didn’t like them.

Those days now belong to a bygone age, but variety can still offer the best entertainment (look at Britain’s Got Talent), and in the hands of Allan Stewart it is the best.

Known foremost as a comedian and impressionist (and, for the last 25 years as THE pantomime dame), Stewart is no mean singer and gets his sixth Big, Big Variety Show rolling with a resounding Get This Party Started – and what a party!

Backed by the eight-piece Andy Pickering Orchestra, it is none-stop fun and frolics, with first-class banter between him and his panto partner-in-crime, broadcaster, Outlander actor and comedian Grant Stott one of the many highlights of the evening.

Being the first night, as Stewart said, there were a few gremlins, but his professionalism shone through except when it didn’t and everyone on stage was laughing uncontrollably – which, of course, all added to the enjoyment. It was just one moment which made it feel home-grown and personal, like the early family photographs of Stewart and Stott on a video screen, and Stewart’s grand finale – singing If He Could See Me Now as a moving tribute to his dad.

Of course, everything is an original in this show. Stewart’s other memorable musical renditions include his own versions of Bohemian Rhapsody and Love Changes Everything, and his Mick Jagger impersonation is hilarious, though he could do with swivelling his hips a wee bit more.

His impressions came thick and so fast I couldn't write them down quick enough beyond Bruce Forsyth and Frank Spencer. But this engaging, cheeky chappie, who says his life changed after he appeared before 26 million viewers on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, is not the only impressionist on this show.

British-Armenian Kev Orkian, an outstanding piano player who has been likened to Dudley Moore, not only gives a remarkable performance as Elton John (on a scratchy CD!) but imitates composers from Mozart to Andrew Lloyd-Webber and how they would play Happy Birthday.

There is more warm-hearted comedy from magician and BGT semi-finalist Mandy Muden, while the Soul Nation Choir won’t fail to uplift your spirits even further with invigorating versions of songs like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Oh, Happy Day.

Oh, happy night it was indeed!

Allan Stewart’s Big, Big Variety Show is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until March 2.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
www.captialtheatres.com