First published in The Times, Thursday December 16 2021
Aladdin is one of the most reliable pantomime stories of all time, but this one seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. Are we in old Peking, the Middle East or somewhere closer to home? Is Abanazar (Sanjeev Kohli) a villain in the louche George Sanders mode, or is it just loveable Navid from the BBC sitcom Still Game? Even the hero, whom everyone else on stage calls Aladdin, would rather go by the more prosaic moniker of Gary.
Continue reading “Panto review: Aladdin – SEC Armadillo”
First published in The Times, Wednesday December 8 2021
A palpable sense of excitement is in the air as the legendary King’s pantomime returns following a two-year absence. Yet this production of Sleeping Beauty also comes with a bittersweet edge. A notable absence from the cast list is Andy Gray – for 20 years one of the stars of the show alongside Allan Stewart and Grant Stott – who died earlier this year.
Continue reading “Panto review: Sleeping Beauty – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Wednesday December 11 2019
The opening voiceover from football legend Graeme Souness, encouraging grown-ups to turn off their phones and “turn up” their children, is surplus to requirements. This, after all, is the Glasgow King’s panto, where excitement levels are set high from the outset and frequently rise to the pitch of frenzy.
Continue reading “Review: Jack and the Beanstalk – King’s Theatre, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Monday December 17 2018
Manchester’s loss is Glasgow’s gain. Last Christmas, the legendary comedy pairing of Ian and Janette Tough aka the Krankies, along with their performing partner-in-crime John Barrowman, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when their innuendo-laden production of Dick Whittington at the Manchester Opera House attracted a barrage of complaints from outraged panto-goers.
Continue reading “Review: Cinderella – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Friday December 22 2017
Comic turns have always taken precedence over the romantic leads in pantomime. Widow Twankey regularly gets higher billing than her own son. Sarah the Cook is generally further up the food chain than Dick Whittington. Even at the ball the Ugly Sisters and Buttons tend to outshine poor Cinderella.
In the case of the Armadillo’s panto, the roll call of comedians and celebrities is brasher and starrier than at any other seasonal offering in Scotland. After all, this is no ordinary festive show, but a “giant pantomime spectacular”.
Continue reading “Review: Jack and the Beanstalk – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Tuesday December 13 2016
Perth’s lovely Victorian theatre may have been closed for refurbishment for the past couple of years, but this hasn’t prevented Scotland’s oldest repertory company from mounting its successful annual pantomime. For this year’s production, the shelf-like stage of the city’s concert hall has once again been transformed with the addition of a proscenium arch and layers of painted flats.
Continue reading “Review: Dick McWhittington – Perth Concert Hall”
First published in The Times, Tuesday December 16 2015
Beauty and the Beast: Four Stars
Cinderella: Three Stars
Perth’s Victorian theatre may be in the midst of an extensive restoration but, for the second festive season in a row, the proscenium archway has been lovingly recreated on the stage of the city’s concert hall. This year’s pantomime, scripted by the ever-reliable Alan McHugh, is Beauty and the Beast, with a refreshing emphasis on the former rather than the latter.
The story unfolds against an array of gorgeous painted backdrops, created by the designer Ken Harrison, with stunning costumes to match, from Belle’s (AmyBeth Littlejohn) sumptuous gold ball gown to the increasingly over-the-top frocks and topknots modelled by Barrie Hunter’s Dame Betty Blumenthal.
Continue reading “Reviews: Beauty and the Beast – Perth Theatre; Cinderella – Byre Theatre, St Andrews”