Allan Stewart's Big Big Variety Show at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Last night I introduced a young friend to a dying art – variety entertainment.

‘Is it cabaret?’ he asked on the way into the King’s Theatre, having no idea what he was in for. Now he’s an ardent fan.

But in the hands of supreme professional, Allan Stewart, it’s not hard to fall under its spell.

Stewart should know what he’s doing. According to Lulu, the all-round entertainer has been treading the boards for 420 years – dog years that is!

The pop star is just one of several celebrities, including Gary Barlow and Hollywood reporter Ross King, who congratulate him on 60 years in the business during his latest Big Big Variety Show.

Sadly, after six years, it’s also his last, so Edinburghers should make the most of this opportunity to see a consummate performer in action.

He may be nearing 70 but the ever youthful Stewart has enough energy to light up Edinburgh Castle. He’s light on his feet and belts out a song like the best of them – singing with his panto mates Grant Stott and Andy Gray reminds me of The Rat Pack, though Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin would never have been heard singing the comic, original songs that make up most of the show!

Comedy is what we need during these dark days and Stewart, ably abetted by Stott and Gray (whose antics remind me of Spike Milligan), provides it in spades. He confessed they had only had two days rehearsal. It didn’t matter. Their corpsing, camaraderie and schoolboy humour is what endears them to their audiences. My face ached!

Backed by the eight-piece Andy Pickering Orchestra, Stewart is not alone in providing us with first class entertainment. Also on the bill is singer Mari Wilson, who played Dusty Springfield on tour and whose hits have included Cry Me a River. It is a rare treat to hear a ‘proper’ singer and her renderings of such songs as Petula Clark’s Don’t Sleep in the Subway will certainly have the audience tripping their way down memory lane.

Vying for top comedian of the night is Mick Miller, one of the originals from the 70s series The Comedians, whose quick-fire delivery will have you praying for more.

Stewart begins the show by singing I’m Still Standing. And after starting out singing rock ‘n’ rock in Glasgow’s Barrowland at the age of 10, he certainly is. He finishes with his own version of We Are the World, and in doing so impersonates stars from all over the globe, from Miss Piggy to Pavarotti, Danny Dyer to Elvis and everyone in between. An amazing feat!

The show’s not over yet, however. Scotland’s favourite pantomime dame for over 20 years, he will be back as Auntie May in Sleeping Beauty next Christmas (on my way into the theatre I heard one woman announcing that she had just bought her panto tickets!), and in the Spring of 2021 he will be back in Edinburgh at the Festival Theatre as the Mother Superior in a tour of Sister Act, which will hopefully come to a theatre near you so you can experience for yourselves this Scottish gem (as Auntie May he has obviously got into the habit of dressing up in women’s clothes – habit. Get it!).

Meanwhile, look out for Stott and Gray in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Allan Stewart's Big Big Variety Show is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until March 14
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
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