Tag Archives: Pantomime

NEWS: Ayr Gaiety’s just-announced pantomime cast get ready for the climb of their life

The Gaiety Theatre in association with Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle have announced the cast and creative team behind Jack and the Beanstalk their new pantomime for 2019.

Reach dizzy heights in the village of Auchinfleg as Sir Hector, Laird of Auchinfleg (David McGowan: Trust Me) and his villagers who try to escape the tyranny of the evil Giant and his wicked sidekick Sluggie Thunderpants. (Karen Bartke: Scot Squad) With the help of Fairy Bluebell (Kirsty Malone: Sunshine on Leith) can Jack (Gavin Jon Wright: River City) rescue his mother Dame Aggie Trott (Chris Forbes: Scot Squad) and their family dairy from certain disaster?

The Gaiety’s creative team is headed up by writer-director Ken Alexander who is joined by co-writer Fraser Boyle, Assistant Director & Choreographer Chris J. Stuart-Wilson, Musical Director Stuart William Fleming, Lighting Designer and Set & Costume Design by Mark Walters and Glitter Pantomimes.

With cow-ntless costume changes, incredible live moosic, glittering scenery and family-friendly fun they promise plenty to keep you amoosed this Christmas at The Gaiety.

[Further casting to be announced]

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK:  Tuesday 26th November 2019– Sunday 5th January 2020 [VARIOUS TIMES]

BSL, AUDIO DESCRIBED & RELAXED PERFORMANCES AVAILABLE

TICKETS: Premium: £22/£21 Standard: £19.50/£18.50  Economy: £17.50/£16.50   Balcony/Restricted View: £14   Family Ticket: £72

CAST

Karen Bartke  – Sluggie Thunderpants

Karen first found her feet as a member of Glasgow Schools Youth Theatre before studying at the University of Glasgow.

On screen she is best known as Officer Karen in the BAFTA winning mockumentary Scot Squad (Comedy Unit).  She was also recently seen in Coronation Street in several episodes as one of the doctors caring for a sepsis stricken Jack Webster.

Stage roles include originating the character of Suzy/Sajida in My Name Is… (Tamasha Theatre, UK Tour) for which she was nominated for an Off West End Award and an Asian Culture, Theatre & Arts Award in the Best Actress categories.

Additional stage credits include Tracks of the Winter Bear (Traverse Theatre); The Man Who Had All The Luck (Sell A Door/Mull Theatre UK tour); There’s Something About Mary Queen of Scots (Ree Productions); No Time Has Passed in Hippoland (Sonic Boom); Pygmalion(GTP); Twelfth Night (Goodnightout Theatre) Karen also performs as a member of Q Fusion Improv, as part of the sketch comedy shows Man vs. Woman and Alchemy and in her spare time Karen is quite literally a singer in a band with classic rock’n’roll party band The Sentinels.

Fairy Bluebell – Kirsty Malone

Kirsty trained on the Musical Theatre Course at The Dance School of Scotland until she was 18 when she moved to London to study Classical Music at the University of London.  After graduating and living in London she went on to study the Masters in Musical Theatre at the RSAMD (now RCS).  Kirsty’s credits include Melania (A Play, A Pie and A Pint, Oran Mor) Six Black Candles (The Glasgow Pavilion), A Matter of Life and Death musical workshop (Citizen’s Theatre) White Christmas (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Miracle on 34th Street (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Dundee Rep), The Elves and the Shoemaker (Dundee Rep) Sunshine on Leith (No.1 UK Tour) and Quadropheina (No.1 UK Tour). Last summer she filmed for the BBC series Clique, which is currently available on BBC3. Kirsty has also appeared in a number of Pantomimes across Scotland, including at Perth Theatre, The Brunton, The Village Theatre East Kilbride and Lanark Memorial Hall.  She also regularly gigs with her swing group The St. Andrews Sisters, performing at the European Championships, for the BBC at the Edinburgh Festival and also at the Ayr Gaiety as part of the Francie and Josie Tribute Show – she is very much looking forward to being back in the theatre – oh yes she is.

Chris Forbes- Dame Aggie Trott

Chris Forbes is a multi-award winning comedian, actor and writer. As a comic, Forbes has performed all over the world, including America, Australia, Canada, Norway and Dubai. TV credits include Jonathan Creek, Scot Squad, Still Game, Mountain Goats and Only an Excuse. A regular guest on BBC Radio Scotland shows ‘Off the Ball’ and ‘Breaking the News’, Chris has also been commissioned to write and star in his own sitcom creation, ‘The Farm’ for the BBC iPlayer. As a core contributor to BBC Scotland’s online comedy platform, ‘Short Stuff’, Forbes has racked up nearly 20 million views for his comedy sketches.

David McGowan – Sir Hector, Laird of Auchinfleg

David studied at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, New York. He has worked extensively in Scottish theatre and television for 25 years. In that time, David has worked with companies both home and abroad including Cumbernauld, Hopscotch, Royal Lyceum, Raindog, TAG, P.A.C.E, MacRoberts, Rab C Nesbitt productions, The Steamie productions, Lee Strasberg Creative Centre (New York), Teatro do Vestido (Lisbon) and five productions for the Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint.TV credits include: Trust Me (BBC) Taggart, The Baldy Man, High Road, Rab C Nesbitt, Children of the Coal and Iron, Pulp Video, Act of Union, Athletico Partick, Acting Shakespeare, In your Face, Case Histories, Waterloo Road. Film credits include: Tickets for the Zoo (Film 4) Being Human (Warner Bros) The Legend of Barney Thomson (Sigma Films). Radio work includes Granpas Green, O’Hara’s Barra, The Basement Tapes, Last Ten. (BBC Radio).

Gavin Jon Wright – Jack Trott

This is Gavin’s first show at The Gaiety and he is awfy chuffed to be part of the production. His travels in Panto-sphere have taken him around the country, from Dumfries, to Arbroath, Pitlochry, Perth, Cumbernauld, Stirling and Glasgow so he is excited to be working somewhere he’s not been before. He’s also worked for a number of theatre companies across Scotland and internationally. Including Tron Theatre, Citizens, Cumbernauld, Random Accomplice, Red Bridge Arts, MacRobert, Perth Theatre, Vox Motus, National Theatre of Scotland, Traverse, Grid Iron and a few shows for Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint seasons. On occasion he has also appeared on the telly, on things such as River City, Still Game, Taggart, In Plain Sight, Shetland and Dear Green Place.

REVIEW: Cinderella – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

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

REVIEW: Ricky McWhittington – Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

Senga McWhittington presides over the Oldie Weegie Sweetie Shoppie in dear old Glasgow town, but her son Ricky has different ambitions – he’s set to head to the bright lights of the big city. When Senga’s shop becomes over-run with vermine, all under the control of the stinky Queen Rat, Senga needs her boy back to help save the day. Helped by Fairy Gallus Alice and a cast of colourful pals, will the shop be saved, will Ricky fulfil his destiny and will Senga get her man? That’s the story of Ricky McWhittington, this year’s festive offering from Platform.

Every panto trope is here: the goodies and the baddies to cheer and hiss and boo; the rhyming dialogue; the fantastically clad panto dame ready to harass some unsuspecting (male) audience members; a young couple falling in love, some up-beat pop numbers to dance to, and the traditional ‘cloot’ so we can sing along together at the end.

This is a panto full of charm and heart and perfectly pitched to its young, local audience. The cast are universally excellent, the acting so good, the tiny audience members know exactly who to boo and hiss for from the start, and hearteningly the girls kick ass and can stand their ground against any foe.

This is a panto who knows its audience well – both child and adult friendly, the audience is fully engaged from start to end. An absolute charmer from a fantastic cast, in a wonderful theatre with the friendliest and most welcoming staff in the city.

Tickets are almost sold out, so be fast, details here: http://www.platform-online.co.uk/whats-on/event/392/

 

REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Wee Muppets – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

It may be Snow White whose name is on the poster, but it’s the boys (dressed as women) who totally steal the show in Eastwood Park’s 2017 fun-filled panto.

With nods to the Snow White story, it’s a new take on the familiar tale. The baddie this time is wicked step mother Spella Binding (Stephen Arden), a former 80s pop diva who’s competing with ingénue Snow White in Pantoland’s version of the X-Factor. Spella’s side kick is Siri, a real live version of Apple’s famous app, (a fine-voiced Lisa McKecknie) and while there’s an apple involved it isn’t the poisoned kind but an i-Pad with a virus that infects our Snow. True love as always is the key to saving her, but refreshingly it’s all girl power here, and there’s no need for a prince to save you when you’ve got the love of your friends and family.

Snow White played by Charis Murray, Molly Muppet played by Lee Reynolds, Siri played by Lisa McKecknie, Lady Marmite played by Greig Adam and Evil Stepmother and 80s pop diva Spella, played by Stephen Arden

The goodies and the baddies are well-defined: Greig Adam’s Lady Marmite is a heroine you really want to root for and evil Spella is the perfect panto villain. Both Adam and Arden shine, the pair’s stage presence is so strong that while the others are a pleasant distraction, and undoubtedly talented, you are willing either, or both of them back on to the stage – they are where the action is. It’s heartening that there’s so much local talent in the cast and the local jokes and banter hit their mark.

This truly is entertainment for all the family, there’s no smut, just a lot of sass, songs we can all sing and dance to and a perfect running time of under two hours including the interval.

Snow White and the Seven Wee Muppets runs until Saturday 30th December at Eastwood Park Theatre and is truly family friendly.

Info, including how to book can be found at: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/8908/Snow-White

Title image: Siri played by Lisa McKecknie, Evil Stepmother and 80s pop diva Spella, played by Stephen Arden, Snow White played by Charis Murray, Molly Muppet played by Lee Reynolds and Lady Marmite played by Greig Adam

Image credit: Mark Gibson

REVIEW: The Snaw Queen – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.

The news that Johnny McKnight was back at the helm of the Tron panto for 2016 was met with almost universal relief. After a slight misstep last year, Scotland’s king of modern panto is back in Glasgow and The Snaw Queen marks a return to the top-class festive form that audiences have come to expect from the acclaimed Glasgow theatre.

While it may appear from the title that there’s some connection with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, the reality is an eye-wateringly colourful, glitter-strewn, often incoherent romp – and it’s none the worse for that. Kristine Cagney Kringle and her toy workshop are flat-out preparing for the festive season. However, there’s a magic mirror, that if broken will plunge Weegietown into a Christmas-less eternal winter. Poor sweet Rudolph succumbs to the evil magic of the mirror and transforms into the Snaw Queen (a Marilyn Monroe look-alike in an eye-popping, diamante-strewn, flesh coloured body suit). Kristine, Elvira the Elf and Olive (the other reindeer) embark on an, at times, psychedelic journey to obtain the magic ingredients needed to reverse the spell. Throw into the mix Elvis the Elf, a giant pink bunny, a monochrome My Fair Lady-inspired number set on Glasgow’s infamous underground, an hilarious ‘disco dolly smack down’ and theatrical in-jokes about the National Theatre of Scotland’s James Plays and Broadway blockbuster Hamilton, and you may well get the impression that this isn’t your average panto – you’d be correct.

McKnight is a master of treading the fine line between zany fun for the babes and naughty humour for the grown ups and while it’s mind-bendingly confusing at times, it’s also hysterically funny. The humour never lets up and the sheer energy of the cast drives the action along at a fair lick. Traditionalists will be happy to know that the obligatory sing-along, sweetie throwing and audience harassment are all here.

It may not be the biggest pantomime in town, either in terms of size or budget, but the Tron always punches far above its weight in terms of entertainment. If its kaleidoscopic colour and surreal storytelling you’re after, all with a social conscience thrown in and belly laughs from start to end – then this will be your bag. A riot for the senses and a welcome relief from this grey old world we live in.

Runs until 7 January 2017 | Image: John Johnston

REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty – Cumbernauld Theatre

Masters of the art of traditional storytelling with a modern twist, Cumbernauld Theatre don’t disappoint in their staging of Sleeping Beauty.

This is not an all guns blazing, special effect driven, pop hit laden extravaganza, instead it is a beautifully told, traditional tale – a real pearl in a sea of crass commercialism.

Largely following the fairy tale as we know it; the wicked witch fails to secure an invite to Princess Aurora’s christening, she damns the princess to a life of isolation as the curse of sleep will come to the young lass if she ever receives a scratch. Despite the best efforts of her doting parents, the adventurous young tike inevitable falls foul of the curse and it takes true love and a pure heart to set her free.

This gentle production is the perfect introduction to “real” theatre for tinies, and shows that you don’t need pyrotechnics or pop hits to keep them enraptured. A heart-warming, sweet and wonderfully told tale.

Runs until 24 December 2015

REVIEW: Peter Pan – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

It’s 50 years since the King’s Theatre launched its first family pantomime and almost a year ago to the day since it was announced that the 50th pantoversary show would be the never-before-seen Peter Pan. A host of panto favourites and TV talent were cast: Glasgow’s favourite panto villain Gavin Mitchell, riding high on the success of a record-breaking run at mega-arena The Hydro in the recently resurrected Still Game stage show would take the role of Captain Hook, Scottish TV stars Greg McHugh (Gary Tank Commander, Fresh Meat), Scott Fletcher (Gary Tank Commander, River City) would be Smee and Peter Pan and comedian and Capital Radio presenter Des Clarke, Starkey. Stakes were also set high when it was revealed that an expected 85000 tickets would be sold, a daunting fact that would also test the mettle of most actors.

So when Captain Hook’s ship found itself sailing into some stormy waters; panto favourite Mitchell had to withdraw from his pivotal role due to injury, only to be replaced by Luther‘s Warren Brown who then pulled out 24 hours before curtain up on opening night, it was going to take the most seasoned of veterans to step into the breach and onto the deck of the Jolly Roger at the eleventh hour. That veteran turned out to be Alex Bourne, an established West End actor, having starred as Buddy in the Buddy Holly Story, played six years as Khashoggi in We Will Rock You and Oliver Award nominated for his dual role as Fred Graham/Petruchio in Kiss Me Kate at Chichester Festival Theatre and the Old Vic.

It is testament to Bourne’s professionalism and talent that with a mere few days rehearsal we get a word perfect, classic pantomime villain. The only pity being, that having heard Bourne’s wonderful voice in previous roles, we don’t get to hear it here. He deserves applause for merely agreeing to take this on, that he does it so well deserves a standing ovation.

This is no radical re-boot of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale nor is it a slavishly faithful re-telling, rather its a local re-working that sticks fairly closely to the major plot lines of the story: the Darlings are asleep in their beds in Glasgow when Peter Pan comes to visit, taking them on the adventure of a lifetime to Neverland via Tiger Lily’s camp, Dead Man’s Rock and of course Captain Hook’s Jolly Roger.

As with almost all pantos, subtlety has gone out of the window, though not too far in this case; the script gets laughs in all the right places from the audience of all ages and manages to refrain from cheap innuendo to do so, the design is relatively tasteful and naturalistic rather than garish and tacky and the music is a mixed bag of relatively recent hits and familiar old classics.

However the amplification levels of the orchestra, who it must be said were absolutely top notch, seemed to be set to stun or should I say deafen – coming in somewhere between road drill and jumbo jet take off, rendering the vocals of Joanne McGuinness (Wendy) and Jenny Douglas (Tiger Lily) inaudible; both have proved to have strong vocals in other productions so maybe a better balance is called for.

The stand out star though is McHugh, who utilises his persona as the effete Gary Tank Commander to full effect. With a raise of an eyebrow or a deadpan aside he has the audience in tears. He has you wishing the scenes away when anyone else is on just to see what he comes up with next. McHugh is ably supported by fellow comedian Des Clarke who, in his third appearance in panto at the King’s, knows just how to wrap a Glasgow audience around his little finger. The ensemble and supporting cast too deliver solid performances throughout.

It all adds up to become classic, family friendly entertainment of the highest order.

Runs until Sun 11th January 2015

REVIEW: Aladdin – macrobert, Stirling

Scotland’s undisputed King of Panto, Johnny McKnight serves up the first treat of the holiday season with his disco-tastic, glitterball spangled version of Aladdin at the macrobert in Stirling.

There are afros, flares and platforms a-plenty as well as enough synthetic fabric to start a disco inferno as we boogie on down to Discotopia. Along with her two kids Wishee Washee (Robert Jack) and Aladdin (Dawn Sievewright), dear old Marge O’Reen Twankey (Andy Clark) runs the last launderette in town, the Dream Cuisine and Dry Clean, an establishment which does a natty turn in pies and bridies as well as washing and ironing.

Marge’s eldest Aladdin is in love with the campest prince in town (Martin McCormick) and as it ever was in Pantoland, the path of true love never runs smooth. In “the worst case of panto romance ever seen”, Aladdin and the blonde hair-flicking, disco-posing object of her affections encounter opposition and obstacles in the form of the Prince’s class-conscious mother (Helen McAlpine) and evil “Aunty” Lilith (a spectacularly clad and suitably menacing Julie Brown), and of course there’s the small matter of a rusty old lamp hidden in a deep dark cave.

As with the best pantomimes there’s as much here for adults as children, there are canny contemporary cultural and political references for the grown ups and the requisite number of slapstick, bum and bogie jokes for the teenies. The music too, manages to include the widest demographic, from 70’s disco and pop classics such as: “Lost in Music”, “Night Fever” and “We Built This City” albeit this time on sausage rolls not rock ‘n’ roll! through current hits: Pharrell’s “Happy” and a knock-out version of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” from Mrs. Twankey ( an hysterical Andy Clark) to the ubiquitous “Let it Go” from Frozen, which as well as being a sing-a-long favourite with the young audience, provides the perfect vehicle to highlight Dawn Sievewright’s stunning vocals.

McKnight eschews the ordinary panto fare and the writing remains clever and on-point throughout, never needing to resort to cheap smuttiness or crudity to get the laughs. There’s also an excellent take on the famous Abbot and Costello “Who’s on First” sketch, whose wordplay goes down a treat with the young audience,proving that classic writing never fails to be funny.

Complementing the writing is a truly outstanding cast led by some of Scotland’s most highly regarded and accomplished theatre actors. Andy Clark as our beloved dame, deserves a medal, not only for his comedy skills but for agreeing to wear Marge O’Reen’s eye-watering ensembles, all of which seem to feature a bikini!, each entrance is accompanied by gasps and in one instance a covering of the eyes in disbelief at what we are seeing. Robert Jack (a familiar face from the much-loved Gary, Tank Commander) is a revelation, his timing and physical comedy skills are of the highest order, managing to raise laughs even when he’s not at the centre of the action. Dawn Sievewright is a fabulously feisty Aladdin and her vocals are world class. Hilarious support is provided by Helen McAlpine (The Queen/Jeanie) and Martin McCormick (Prince Jasper) – there really is not a weak link anywhere in this production.

Mention must be made of the quality of the set design by Karen Tennent and the seamless transitions between the multiple changes, which would put most larger theatres to shame.

There’s no magic carpet here: “we’ve no got the budget”, but this Aladdin is all the better for it. This truly is a Christmas cracker, it’s a witty, wonderful, disco-tastic spectacular for the whole family – the perfect start to the festive season.

Runs until 4th January 2015

Tickets available here: http://www.macrobert.org/event/aladdin/