Edinburgh shows: Robert Burns musical to premier at Edinburgh Playhouse for Burns Night
Started as a collaboration 30 years ago in Holywood between Burns ‘fanatics’ Michael Jackson and producer David Gest, the musical Burns is now coming back to its roots in Scotland. Helmed by Scottish composer Tish Tindall as the Narrator and featuring an all-female cast apart from the Bard himself, Burns will debut at the Edinburgh Playhouse on 20 January 2023.
Tindall said: "Much like Burns' life, this 21st century story about an 18th century genius is about daring to dream, following your dreams and never giving up...Scotland is going to be known as a country that produces musical theatre hits like Hamilton if we keep following that dream.”
In Scotland and beyond the arts has seen a resurgence of Burns popularity, most recently in the 2022 National Theatre of Scotland success Burn starring Alan Cumming. Burns fought hard to be heard in his lifetime, finding success as a published writer only after he died a pauper at 37. But his influence has stood the test of time and made its mark across the globe, on the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson. Poem Tam O’ Shanter is thought to be the inspiration behind ‘80s hit Thriller.
Now restaged for a live, full-scale production BURNS will premiere at the Edinburgh Playhouse just in time for Burns Night. It will see Robert Burns living in the modern world and torn between a life of duty and the calling of his creative destiny. When his musical masterpiece written for 'The King of Pop' thrills the world, the fame Robert earns on social media shines on both the light and the dark of his deeds, ultimately sparking a return to his roots to reach his salvation.
The original musical, starring John Barrowman, was performed in 1992 for backers in Hollywood and once in Holland in 1996. It was to continue under the direction of legends Gene Kelly of Singin’ In The Rain fame and Anthony Perkins (Psycho). But both died before the project finished.
Musician and playwright Tindall teamed up With Gest and producer Diane Aspinall of jointly owned Lossie Entertainment Academy in 2015 and created a new version, which premiered in Scotland as Robert Burns The Musical in 2015. Gest picked up the project but then he too, passed away the following year. In November 2021, after a handful of touring performances and two Fringe runs since its premiere, the show was filmed at Silverbox Studios for an online audience as BURNS with new songs and melodies.
Scots musician and writer Tindall has produced and performed several shows for the Edinburgh Fringe including Robert Burns The Musical (2015, 2019), Defying GraviTT (2020) and Robert Burns, David Gest, Michael Jackson and Me (2016). She creates musical theatre, film scores, television soundtracks and bespoke compositions for high profile projects including Lego and Universal. But she is still very much driven by giving opportunities on stage to up and coming creatives and says Burns will feature the next generation of young, Scottish talent.