The Aretha Franklin Story theSpace @ Surgeons Hall Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019 Review Friday 23rd August

With Edinburgh Entertainment & Arts


The Aretha Franklin Story at theSpace @ Symposium Hall has two exceptional reasons to go to it – first of course the songs of Aretha Franklin, and second the amazing vocal and performance presence of Cleopatra Higgins.  This show is one of two this year featuring Cleopatra; the other one, “The Tina Turner Story” I reviewed yesterday, and once again here, Cleopatra is NOT a “tribute” artist singer trying to be a “sound-a like”, but an impressively talented artist who obviously loves singing these songs and making them her own for this show.

The format of all of these “story” shows from Night Owl Productions is a simple one – give a basic outline of the singer’s history on screen and let the songs speak for themselves.  Cleopatra Higgins has, however, taken this format to a completely different performance level.

Aretha Franklin, like many of her contemporaries, had at times a difficult personal life beneath the success of her professional one, and some of these areas are touched upon in this story, but it is the songs that really speak for Aretha Franklin, and what songs they are. Although we have some early and later material, the core of this show focuses on the iconic Atlantic Recording Sessions part of Aretha’s career, and it is here that Cleopatra Higgins really makes immortal songs like “RESPECT”,  “You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and “Chain of Fools” her very own here.  One of the highlights of the show for me from Cleopatra was an outstanding cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s classic song “I Say A Little Prayer”.  Anyone who has ever looked at the music for a Burt Bacharach song will know that he does not make simple “sing-a-long” songs and you have to be very good to deliver a song like this properly, and Cleopatra got this one “perfect”. Interestingly this song was originally written for Burt Bacharach’s “musical muse” Dionne Warwick, and I am sure that Aretha would have taken great pleasure in having such a huge hit with her version of this song.

We are nearing the end of this year’s Fringe as I write this review and what is amazing about this show is that Cleopatra Higgins has been doing this show and The Tina Turner show every day for the whole run of the Fringe, and even now is keeping up an incredible high-energy performance with stunning vocals and stage presentation skills.  This year’s Fringe really has turned into The Cleopatra Higgins story.


theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Aug 22-25


50 minutes

Country: United Kingdom - England

Group: Night Owl Shows


Review by Tom King




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"We both met at the edge of yesterday
Where all tomorrows were still a possibility
Holding hands as we looked out to the horizon
Never realising that soon the sun would set
Forever on all our hopes and dreams

Words from "The Edge of Yesterday"
copyright © Tom King 2019


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