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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Movin' Melvin Brown: 'A Man, A Magic, A Music' Live!
Movin' Melvin Brown: 'A Man, A Magic, A Music' Live!
Published on Sunday, 14 August 2011

4 stars

C venues - C (venue website)
3-14, 16-21, 23-29 Aug, 7:50pm-9:05pm
Reviewed by Lee Zhao

 Parental Guidance. Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

Movin' Melvin Brown: 'A Man, A Magic, A Music' Live! stars Melvin Brown as he narrates the story of his life, baring all and pulling no punches: the opening anecdote tells of his first encounter with the n-word.  The story is punctuated with the music that has helped form who he is.  Armed with the deep voice of a wise old sage, Brown is a compelling storyteller, and the way he sets up each song is almost enjoyable as the songs himself.

From the moment he walks on, singing an unaccompanied spiritual, you cannot help but listen and be moved by what he says and sings. Born in 1945 in Cincinnati, anyone with a basic knowledge of recent American history will realise the struggles he would have faced.  Fortunate enough to avoid both the worst violence of the Civil Rights struggle and the draft, the story instead reflects his fond memories of the 50s and 60s.  He recreates the sounds of that era for us live on stage with great success, doing pretty good impressions of James Brown, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles.

Apart from a few of his own songs, including a final socio-political anthem, most of the numbers are classics and I could see an air of nostalgia in the eyes of many of the older members of the audience.  The crowd loved the chance to join in during a gospel cover of When the Saints Go Marching In and, for a man long past the age of retirement, Movin' Melvin sure can move: tap, twist, jive are all no problem.

However, there is one part I was not expecting. Brown's story eventually leads him to an episode where he was a male dancer. And by male dancer, I mean male dancer.  After witnessing that live, I believe in miracles and understand why he moves so well on stage. Certainly the group of girls in from Texas (Brown's current home) absolutely loved it.

Still, even though Brown may have revealed a little too much information in this adult show (he has another show for children on the Fringe), it is still a refreshing pick-me-up. He walks on with a massive grin that doesn't leave his face until he walks off at the very end. That smile, and his cheeky laughter, are contagious.

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