Tag Archives: Pantomime

NEWS: Maw Goose will Strut Her Stuff in 2021 at Macrobert

After careful consideration and in light of the ongoing restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 lockdown, Macrobert Arts Centre has delayed this year’s panto, Maw Goose, until 2021.

Julie Ellen (Macrobert’s Artistic Director) said:

‘We have been exploring all the options around our annual panto and this has been a hugely difficult decision to make.  We are looking forward to seeing Maw Goose ‘strut her stuff’ in 2021. Good Panto takes time and planning, it is a year-round commitment for all of us – Macrobert staff, the creative team, the cast and the members of our young cast – and at this stage we just can’t balance delivering a fantastic panto experience for our audience with making sure we keep everyone safe, both of which are key priorities for us all.’

The annual panto is the organisation’s biggest annual investment in terms of both time and money and like creative organisations across the UK Macrobert Arts Centre has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown. Their priority is being here for everyone in the future as a key part of the cultural community in Stirling, Forth Valley and further afield, delaying Maw Goose will not only help with those plans, but ensure audiences get the all-singing, all-dancing panto extravaganza promised by a Macrobert Panto.

Julie continued:

‘It’s a difficult time for the arts community as a whole, but without welcoming our audiences into the building for the full range of creative experiences we offer, it is a big challenge for us financially. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our audiences, partners and other supporters, on so many levels, but we need to make plans to help ensure Macrobert’s future and we look forward to sharing Maw Goose with everyone next year when we can properly do it justice.‘

The Macrobert Team will be in touch with all bookers to transfer tickets or to discuss alternative options.

REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

The panto-going citizens of Glasgow raised a cheer when the cast of the SEC Armadillo’s pantomime Snow White was announced. The almost universally adored Greg McHugh – he of the much-missed Gary, Tank Commander would star as court jester Gary, his TV co-star Leah MacRae would play Nanny McWee his mother (not sure the lovely Leah should be best pleased at that!), River City’s Frances Thorburn would be our heroine Snow White and a doyenne of British comedy acting, the wonderful Doon Mackichan would be the evil Queen Lucretia.

The quality cast, coupled with the sheer scale of the spectacle, add up to the city’s most fabulous, funny festive offering. There’s a camaraderie from the cast that just radiates to the audience, who are on-side with the high jinks from the start. McHugh is undoubtedly the star and his antics as the cheeky but naïve Gary are the highlights of the show, but there are star turns a-plenty, especially from Mackichan who is an absolute treat as the evil queen.

The only negative notes are a troupe of mildly horrifying looking woodland animals whose costumes look like they’ve been culled from the leftovers of the abattoir, all the more incongruous in such a spectacularly glitzy show and the auditorium itself, whose vast size does tend to engulf any audience reactions.

Definitely the most spectacular panto in town and certainly the most star-studded.

REVIEW: Cinderella – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre Arts (GAMTA) have teamed up with Eastwood Park Theatre to present this year’s festive pantomime, Cinderella.

The set and costumes are a feast for the eyes, the glittering, decorated proscenium adds to the wonder before the curtain even rises. There’s glitz, glamour and special effects, all adding to the magic of the production.

While the youthful cast win in the energy and effort department, it is however, a dance-heavy, slow to get going, take on the traditional tale. There are some baffling additions to the story which seem to have been shoe-horned in to showcase GAMTA’s dance credentials, unfortunately they only add to an already over-long run time. It also suffers from the fact Buttons is being played by a young child and the object of his affections a clearly mature teen, it all adds a creepily uncomfortable element which will no doubt go over the heads of the children in the audience, but feels a tad uncomfortable for the adults.

Where it succeeds is in its comedy elements, Ciara Flynn and Rebecca McComb are a perfectly matched comedic double act as Ugly Sisters and provide the majority of the true highlights of the show.

The cast can’t be faulted for their skill or talent, however, they suffer from an over-long and overly-dull script that dilutes the magical potential the show could have had.

REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

If it’s a big traditional panto with plenty of glitz and sparkle you’re looking for, then Glasgow King’s certainly delivers year on year.

This year’s offering is Jack and the Beanstalk, starring local panto treasures Elaine C. Smith and Johnny Mac, and save for these two local favourites, it’s a minor TV celeb-free zone and all the better for it.

The story largely follows the traditional tale: there’s a huge furry cow, some magic beans, a growing beanstalk, a fabulously realised giant and the requisite evil baddie, some familiar tunes – mostly oldies, there are no new pop hits. It’s re-set to Glasvegas with some familiar local references thrown in and most of the usual panto tropes intact. There’s no slapstick, a tiny bit of audience participation, the dame is a woman, the princess doesn’t need a man to vanquish the foe and proposes to her beau – all a refreshing move in the right direction. It needs mentioning though that a sequence between Mac and Smith incorporating the names of famous chocolate bars, was seen last year almost exactly in Cinderella at the SEC Armadillo.

Elaine C. Smith is much-loved and a solid pair of hands for a production as big as this and Johnny Mac is entirely loveable and endearing as Jack, the audience is onside from his first wide smile. Less effective is Anne Smith as the panto baddie Mrs. Blunderbore, an unfortunate visual joke from Jack about her performance being a bit flat, is unfortunately accurate, and in contrast to her co-stars her costumes are utterly lacklustre – more Poundland than Pantoland.

All in all, it’s exactly as you would expect every year from the King’s – big, bold and beautifully executed. A fine night of traditional entertainment.

Runs until 5 January 2019

Image: Richard Campbell

Originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Cinderfella – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

There has thankfully been a seismic shift in the Pantosphere in recent years to reflect the society we actually live in, and at the forefront has been the Tron Theatre, and more specifically those works from the pen of the wonder boy of panto fabulousness, Johnny McKnight. That said, this is the festive show I’ve attended since childhood and from the days of Peter Capaldi, Forbes Masson, Alan Cumming and Craig Ferguson, it has never felt the need to conform to Christmas norms or patronise its audience. It has a special place in my heart and year on year it never fails to entertain on every level and for every age.

The smashing of gender stereotypes features large in this year’s offering Cinderfella, and boy do they do it with tons of style and even more humour. Poor, orphaned Cinderella is fighting to keep her late parent’s vintage store afloat, her only hope is to meet fashion entrepreneur Princess Charmaine and persuade her to invest in the failing family business. However, the only way a poor pleb like Cinderella can get near the Princess is to get an invite to her annual ball. However, this year the guest-list is a male-only affair – so what’s a girl to do?…

The music is chart-toppingly catchy and composer Ross Brown has obviously caught West End smash Six, another celebration of female strength, there’s also a nod to You’ve Got a Friend in Me in Muttons big solo number.

The all-female cast is absolutely dynamite. Sally Reid, all wide-eyed innocence and guilelessness is the titular hero and her comic timing is masterful. Lauren Ellis-Steele doubles up as “Scotland’s answer to Beyoncé” (more an Adele look-and-sound-alike) and also the Wicked Stepmother – it’s a perfectly pitched performance and Ellis-Steele has a fine set of pipes, and as with all McKnight festive offerings, she gets to go full-on Mariah in All I Want For Christmas, the song that traditionally brings the shows to an end. Jo Freer as Cinderella’s loyal sheep side-kick Muttons is a scene stealer as are Hannah Jarrett-Scott and Daisy Ann Fletcher as Cinders’ hapless and hopeless step-brothers Harry and Larry in eye-popping male-drag. 

This ‘estrogen epidemic’ is so well conceived and so well delivered, you can’t fail to be thoroughly entertained and its message of female self-reliance will make your heart soar. I can’t praise it highly enough – a fantastic, five star, festive feast.

Image: John Johnstone

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

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