The SEC Armadillo pantomime has gone all-out in its efforts to sparkle and shine brighter than its rivals: even before you enter there’s the dazzling 5 foot high letters spelling out the title of the show, then there’s the twinkling lights from the 20 foot Christmas tree, the flashing neon of the big wheel and the rainbow-hued SSE Hydro right next door. For sheer sparkling extravagance in set, costume and lighting design, no expense has been spared in this year’s offering, Cinderella. Cinder’s starlit crystal coach is a particular highlight, sparkling as it flies out above the audience.
There’s the cast too, Scottish TV comedy giants Jonathan Watson and Gavin Mitchell, music, theatre and River City star Frances Thorburn, musical theatre star Keith Jack and veteran comedy duo The Krankies.
The storyline is a simplistic and very streamlined version of the traditional tale: the two ugly step-sisters are mean to poor old Cinders (though not as mean as they could be); Cinders can’t go to the ball; the prince masquerades as a servant and falls in love with our heroine in the woods; Cinders gets her glad-rags on and goes to ball in disguise; Prince and Cinders are re-united; slipper gets lost; slipper finds its owner; the lovestruck pair get married, and yes, they all live happily ever after.
There’s no slapstick, no audience participation and no sweetie throwing as expected from a ‘traditional’ panto. There is however heavy reliance on The Krankies to provide the light relief, but their smut-laden and entirely inappropriate dialogue is woefully outdated in 2018 – and this comes from someone who is very much not of the ‘snowflake generation’. Watson and Mitchell are fine comic actors and do their best with the material given and Thorburn and Jack, both gifted singers only have a few short moments to show their considerable talents. They are all supported by a hard working, top-notch adult ensemble and a well-drilled children’s troupe from JazzartUK.
Very much geared towards adults, this is a beautifully staged panto, but I can’t help think that opportunities were wasted by the script writers and director with such a talented cast of actors.
Runs until 30th December 2018
Tickets available HERE
Originally written for http://www.thepublicreviews.com
Writer: Eric Potts
Director: Jimmy Chisholm
Musical Director: Ian Vince-Gatt
Choreographer: Joanne McShane
The Public Reviews Rating:
Crash, bang, wallop what a show, they don’t come any bigger than the full-on assault on the senses that is the annual King’s Theatre pantomime, which next year celebrates a 50 year unbroken run of festive shows. With a roster of Scottish acting and comedy talent and a storyline tailor-made for the Glasgow audience this is a year-on-year sell-out success and a long-held tradition with Glaswegian families. This year the story receiving the King’s treatment is Aladdin which, apart from some local in-jokes and the inevitable pop culture references for the tweenies, sticks to the traditional pantomime version of the story.
The success of any festive show is dependent on the strength of its actors and with a plot as holey as Widow Twankey’s capacious drawers; the casting of Scottish comedy icons Karen Dunbar (Mrs. McConkey/The Genie of the Ring), Des Clarke (Wishee Washee) and Gavin Mitchell (Abanazar) is inspired. The sublime comedy skills of the trio are the glue that binds the whole thing together. Dunbar, in particular is a star; a woman who merely needs to raise an eyebrow or flare a nostril to have an audience in stitches, that she is also in possession of a belter of a voice is a fabulous bonus. Mitchell is also in top form as evil baddie Abanazar; giving his best Tim Curry à la Rocky Horror voice and the best “Mwa ha ha” evil laugh you’ll hear in years. As the titular character Kieran Brown has little to do apart from a magic carpet riding rendition of Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ and a few bits of fluff, as has Jenny Douglas, under-used as Princess Jasmine. The pair are highly gifted performers both in possession of first class musical theatre voices but here we only get glimpses of the talent underneath. The sets and costumes too, are stars in themselves; no expense has been spared in their design and construction and they read supremely well on stage; the word stunning simply doesn’t do them justice.
This is everything a Christmas show should be, with plenty for both adults and kids alike: there’s sparkle and pizzazz, there’s music and dancing, sing-a-longs and slapstick and the highlights more than make up for the sometimes saggy plot. With Aladdin, the King’s upholds its long held position as the number one pantomime in Glasgow.
Runs until 12th January 2014
Since its debut in 2010 at Oran Mor, Casablanca The Gin Joint Cut, has had two successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival and arrives here in the middle of a comprehensive UK tour.
At once, reverential and irreverent, it is a loving parody of the classic film but with some “DVD extras”. Gavin Mitchell,Claire Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm provide a truly laugh-out-loud evening’s entertainment. The love, care and quality of this just shines through. The script, the props and the physical comedy never descend into cheap farce – this is clever and original. I urge you if you get the chance go and see it.
Thursday 1st November – Sunday 4th November Eden Court INVERNESS 01463 234234
Thursday 8th November Town Hall RUTHERGLEN 0141 613 5700
Friday 9th November Corran Halls OBAN 01631 567333
Saturday 10th November Queen’s Hall DUNOON 01369 702800
Sunday 11th November Victoria Hall HELENSBURGH 01436 673275