Edinburgh Fringe show celebrates Eurovision kitsch

EDINBURGH Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:22pm BST

kraine's Verka Serduchka performs the song ''Dancing Lasha Tumbai'' during a dress rehearsal for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki May 12, 2007. ''Eurobeat -- almost Eurovision'' mercilessly sends up the kitsch contest every night at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where flag-waving, wolf-whistling fans take audience participation to new heights of surreal lunacy. REUTERS/Bob Strong

kraine's Verka Serduchka performs the song ''Dancing Lasha Tumbai'' during a dress rehearsal for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki May 12, 2007. ''Eurobeat -- almost Eurovision'' mercilessly sends up the kitsch contest every night at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where flag-waving, wolf-whistling fans take audience participation to new heights of surreal lunacy.

Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong

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EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Trite lyrics, camp dance routines and half a tonne of sequins -- it is time to celebrate all that is tacky in the Eurovision Song Contest.

"Eurobeat -- almost Eurovision" mercilessly sends up the kitsch contest every night at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where flag-waving, wolf-whistling fans take audience participation to new heights of surreal lunacy.

Eurovision is mocked for its mishmash of power ballads, ethnic rhythms and bubblegum pop with critics complaining that tactical voting by East Europeans is skewing the results.

Once an elegant black-tie event, the televised annual contest was launched in the 1950s as the flagship of the European Broadcasting Union's light entertainment programming, but is now widely derided in Western Europe.

Swedish quartet Abba were its best known winners, Ireland's Johnny Logan won it three times -- twice as a singer, once as a composer -- and Spain triumphed with a song using the word "La" 138 times.

The stage show is a battle between 10 countries for top honors.

Italy's Vesuvia Versace faces off against Britain's Rain and Shiner crooning "Love to Love to Love" and the KG Boys from Russia, who proudly boast "We are the new kids on the Eastern Bloc."

British TV personality Mel Giedroyc revels in the role of co-host Boyka, a former Olympic pole vaulter and night-club singer whose half-time showstopper is her moving rendition of "I'm Sarajevo ... Taste me."

She has no doubt what the essential ingredients are for Eurovision, including a big, belting voice and dreadful lyrics.

"It is essential that at least one item of clothing gets ripped off, either by yourself or ideally by someone else. You need wobbly lips and your costume has to be 89 percent sequins," she told Reuters after the show.

The show's Australian writer Craig Christie, who took the Eurovision tribute around Australia on tour, hopes London will be its next stop. Promoters from Scandinavia, Germany and Ireland are also showing interest, he said.

"I've always been amused by it. Eurovision is very popular in Australia where it gets shown on TV the night after it is staged. All we needed to do was reproduce it and turn up the volume. This is a loving tribute," he added.

"It has always been enormously camp. It has had trans-sexuals, transvestites, trans-continentals, basically everything with a 'trans' in front of it."

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