A FRINGE promoter who quit the festival in protest this summer after being ousted from his site in the New Town will instead be part of the city’s expanded Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations.
Australian impresario David Bates, who said “big business” and “corporate interests” had forced him out of St Andrew Square, has revealed plans to bring his hit show La Clique to Edinburgh over the winter.
A special festive edition of the show, La Clique Noel, will be staged in Festival Square over Christmas and Hogmanay and will run until the end of the first week in January.
The late-night cabaret and variety production was launched in Edinburgh to rave reviews in 2004 and went on to tour Sydney, New York, Paris, Montreal, Adelaide and London. But the show has never been staged in Edinburgh outwith of the Fringe before.
Bates is joining forces with Underbelly, the firm which has taken over Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival for the next three years, to stage a record seven-week run of La Clique in the city, from November 17 until January 6 in a 530-capacity Spiegeltent.
The Christmas and Hogmanay run of La Clique, which has had festive runs in London previously, has been confirmed four months after it emerged that Fringe shows were being banned from St Andrew Square this summer.
The owners of properties around the square, which include RBS and Standard Life, ordered a crackdown on the use of its historic garden for festivals and events, insisting it should become a “space for relaxation” in August.
However Mr Bates, who has been staging Fringe shows in Edinburgh since 1996, branded the decision – backed by the city council, which leases the square from the owners – “casual and mean-spirited.”
Underbelly, which launched ticket sales for the festive run today, said La Clique Noel would “brings its trademark inspirational mix of cabaret, new burlesque, circus and contemporary vaudeville in a new, sexy, dangerous show which is over your head, under your skin, and below the belt”.
Mr Bates said: “With its dysfunctional collection of extraordinary new artists and don’t-miss favourites, the show will feature a scintillating live band and the best in adult, genre-bending, new variety from the subterranean world of circus, comedy, cabaret, magic, burlesque and subversive performance clubs.
"I can’t tell you how disappointed that we cannot participate in the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, but we live in a world where truth and straight talking are rare commodities.
"We're absolutely thrilled to be able to continue the tradition of presenting La Clique in its home town and a Christmas season is a real ‘homecoming'.
"The show will be fresh and innovative as well (as always) as well as containing some of the classic, well-loved, signature acts, but with a scintillating live band, the show is now as much a live music concert as well as boutique circus, burlesque, cabaret, dance hall and freak show.
"We're creating a special festive show which will fit perfectly for the season. Edinburgh is the best place in the world to be for Christmas and Hogmanay, of course."
Underbelly directors Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam said: “We want to offer audiences a five-star night out where the live entertainers will have them on the edge of their seats with their hearts in their mouths.
“La Clique is the best show of its kind in the world and we’re delighted it’s going to spice up Christmas in Scotland’s capital this year. We look forward to sharing other new and exciting elements of Edinburgh’s Christmas in September.”
Underbelly is using Festival Square, which is owned and maintained by the city council, for the second row in a row after reviving previous Fringe hit Five Guys Named Moe last year.
Frank Ross, Edinburgh's Lord Provost, said: "Edinburgh’s Christmas drew over one million visitors and regulars will be delighted to hear Fringe favourites La Clique will be making a return.
"They are real crowd-pleasers, not just in Edinburgh but all over the world."