Review: Outta the Books (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

A charming hour of musical storytelling aimed at children aged three to eight, Outta the Books is produced by StorySongs Productions in the USA, written by Erica Ehm and Brian Banks, and directed by Neil Fisher.

In each chapter, we meet a new fairytale character as all compete to win a voice competition. Through catchy pop melodies and the guidance of a catty (literally) librarian (Annie Kirkman), your favourite tales get a modern brush-up to enthrall the little ones.

Using the contemporary form little ones will surely understand from the likes of Britain’s Got Talent, Outta the Books can also be enjoyed as a celebration of libraries and their contribution to children’s creativity and imagination.

It also gives the characters we love from fairy tales a platform to be ‘special’ and to be themselves. This has been explored in musical shows before, notably Disenchanted, but not in shows designed expressively for younger audiences.

Promotional image for Outta the Books

As children grow up, they do notice differences in other people and themselves, and it is especially important that they learn to celebrate and accept others: “you can’t judge a book by its cover”.

Outta the Books is an enjoyable piece of theatre snd storytelling from a talented cast (Kirkman, Karl Queensborough, Kirsten Csmpbell Ferguson, Carl Spencer, Charlie Sumpter, Rehyan Rivera, Elektra Banks, Rysn Heenan, Jonty O’Csllaghan) performing against virtual backgrounds which match the stories they appear in.

Best of all, it can be viewed in bitesize chunks, one song at a time, if your youngsters can’t stay engaged for the full hour without a break – or if parents snd carers need a pause!

Fringe rating: ****

You can stream Outta The Books at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for free – details and link here.