Special needs pupils take turn in spotlight at variety show

Children photographed at sound and powder paint workshops at St Crispins School Edinburgh in preparation for the Awfey Huge Fantastic Variety Show at the Festival Theatre. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Children photographed at sound and powder paint workshops at St Crispins School Edinburgh in preparation for the Awfey Huge Fantastic Variety Show at the Festival Theatre. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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IF variety is the spice of life, then the pupils at Edinburgh’s special needs schools certainly know how to live it up.

And tonight panto and television star Andy Gray is helping them show the rest of the city how to do the same.

More than 200 children – representing 12 schools and the WHALE arts centre – are taking part in the Awfey Huge Fantastic Variety Show at the Festival Theatre.

Presented and directed by Gray, the event is the first of its kind involving young disabled performers aged from seven to 18 on Scotland’s largest stage. Described as an “electrifying mix of live performance”, it will feature dance, song, film, puppets, animation, music, parkour and clowning.

Gray, who is currently appearing in River City, said: “Having watched the rehearsals I can say that this show certainly lives up to its name. It is an awfey, awfey huge variety show. I’ve seen amazing solo singing, great ensemble dancing, some incredible puppets, wild rock ‘n’ roll and tremendous energy and enthusiasm.”

Gray also convinced his friend, Richard E Grant, to get involved with the show. The actor is currently filming Wolverine 3 in New Orleans, but took time out to record the narration for animated film The Fintastics, which was made by Braidburn School pupils.

Other schools involved include St Crispin’s, Prospect Bank, Redhall, Rowanfield, Pilrig Park, Woodlands, Gorgie Mills, Panmure St Anne’s and Kaimes, as well as the WHALE centre. The children also designed costumes and worked on the lighting and sound, and set design.

Cat Sheridan, learning and participation co-ordinator, said: “The Awfey Huge Fantastic Variety Show puts our performers at its heart. It showcases their creativity having worked with a fantastic group of artists in their schools and it’s a great privilege for us to give these young learning disabled artists a platform.”

The Awfey Huge Fantastic Variety Show is on at the Festival Theatre today, 10.30am and 7pm. Tickets on the door, via phone 0131-529 6000 or online at www.edtheatres.com