Jo Brand is guest critic at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre

JO BRAND may be best known as a stand-up comedian, but at the Festival Theatre next week, there's a chance to check out her acting chops when she makes a guest appearance as The Critic in Nativity! The Musical.

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 1:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd November 2018, 1:29 pm
Nativity! the Musical
Jo Brand
Nativity! the Musical Jo Brand

Every child in every school has one Christmas wish, to star in a Nativity, and at St Bernadette’s School they’ve decided to mount a musical version.

Join teacher Mr Maddens and his crazy assistant Mr Poppy as they struggle with hilarious children, and a whole lot of sparkle and shine to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true.

Direct from its triumphant at London’s Eventim Apollo in 2017, the musical featuring all your favourite sing-a-long songs from the Nativity film series including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth and One Night One Moment, is the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

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It’s written and directed by the creator and director of the films, Debbie Isitt, who says, “I am so proud of this fantastic musical we created for 2017 and the extremely talented cast that brought this show to life.

“So many families have had so much joy from our wonderful show and after a fantastic success we are delighted to go back on the road in 2018 and take our sparkle and shine to brand new venues across the UK including a fantastic return to the magnificent Eventim Apollo in London - we can’t wait to get started.”.

She continues, “It’s a classic story about a group of underdog kids in a challenging primary school trying to put on the best nativity play they can.

“Essentially, it’s about their teacher Mr Maddens, who hates Christmas because his girlfriend left him at Christmas time.

“He has lost his belief in himself and the children, and he’s really down about everything, until a mad classroom assistant comes into their lives.”

Isitt admits adapting her screen creation for the stage wasn’t without its challenges.

She explains, “Even though the characters were established by the film and the story hasn’t changed, the musical’s cast has got to make it their own by improvising during rehearsals. The story stays the same, but they bring so much more to it.

“The real challenge was balancing, giving fans of the film the story that they love, but also allowing us room to experiment, explore new ideas and allow these actors to step into those shoes and make them their own.”

Nativity! The Musical, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 28 November-2 December, various times ( for details), £22-£55, 0131-529 6000