drag queens vs vampires best musical and cabaret

whynow’s best of the fest | The best musical and cabaret at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Sashay down to Transylvania and take down a drug cartel in the very best musical and cabaret our critics found at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023.

Two weeks, a dozen burritos and a whole lot of shoe leather later, and our crack Fringe-reviewing team have seen a whisker-shy of 1% of the shows at 2023’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I know, hold the applause.

But while every year you’re likely to leave the Fringe with a dozen missed show opportunities dangling in the back of your head, for anyone still planning a trip, there’re plenty of days left to cram in as much comedy, theatre and whatever Creepy Boys is as possible.

Musical and cabaret tends to thrive at the Edinburgh Fringe, with the drag scene in particular going from strength to strength with every year that goes by. From out-and-out comedies to more serious fare, the Fringe has even cemented itself as a jumping-off point for global musical sensations – Tudor-themed pop concert Six, which first came to the festival in 2017, went on to win multiple Tony Awards across the pond.

The Fringe really does thrive off recommendations, so, without further ado, here’s our rundown of the very best musical and cabaret shows we found vying for attention in the Scottish capital.

Drag Queens vs Vampires

drag queens vs vampires

(Photo: Matthew Stallworthy)

Drag Queens vs Vampires review | Playful and slay-ful camp comedy

Kate Bush and Crudi Dench are back following multiple sell-out Fringe runs with their zombie-themed narrative cabaret. A brilliantly self-aware, perfectly-pitched send-up of Hammer horror with just a splash of Eurovision thrown in for good measure, Drag Queens vs Vampires is absolutely one of the best late-night shows at this year’s festival. With plenty of innuendos, audience interaction and two performers at the top of their game, you’re unlikely to find more fun on a Wednesday night. Oo-er, missus.

Drag Queens vs Vampires is playing at Underbelly – Cowgate until 27 August. Get your tickets here.

Police Cops: The Musical

Police Cops: The Musical at the New Diorama Theatre in 2022

Police Cops: The Musical at the New Diorama Theatre in 2022 (Credit: Alex Brenner)

Police Cops: The Musical review | America? F**k yeah!

Expanded from the original 2017 stage hit to a luxurious 90-minute runtime, Police Cops’ puerile and incredibly sharp wit hasn’t just survived the shift into musical theatre, it’s thrived off it. The casual brutality of shooting a corpse during a dance number and some truly inspired song choices – ‘If I Should Unexpectedly Die Tonight’ is a particular highlight – serve as hilarious and pitch-perfect parodies of the eighties action movie. As one of the originators of the current parody-play Fringe craze, take a trip down to America for some properly funny musical storytelling.

Police Cops: The Musical is playing at the Assembly George Square Studios until 28 August. Get your tickets here.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

showstopper the improvised musical edinburgh fringe

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical review | Consistently impressive improv

Though the Fringe circuit certainly isn’t wanting for good improv or even good musical improv, the big-budget company has made a name for itself with huge, appropriately showstopping musical numbers made up entirely on the spot. Year after year, Showstopper! continue to impress with a remarkable eye for surprisingly un-choreographed dance routines, enjoyably daft set-pieces and a band remarkably adept at mimicking whatever song or composer is thrown at them.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is playing at Pleasance Courtyard – The Grand at 21:10 from 4-27 August. Get your tickets here.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 runs until 28 August. You can view our comprehensive guide to the entire Fringe here.

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