Tag Archives: Pantomime

REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Despite it being the first day in December, pantomime season is well and truly in its groove. Eastwood Park Theatre in Giffnock have hit the ground running with the well-oiled machine that is The Wizard of Oz.

Largely a re-telling of the L. Frank Baum tale, it does take a few diversions off of the yellow brick road, (there’s a magic microphone involved) but it is very much a traditional family panto with wide appeal. The double-entendres are at a minimum and there’s enough slapstick for the little ones, TikTok dances and familiar chart hits for the teens and political jokes for the grown-ups.

It all starts with a bang, when we are treated to a rip-roaring version of Proud Mary in the first five minutes: the fine-voiced cast have their first of many chances to shine. With the interest levels up, the audience is carried along on a wave of energy.

To their absolute credit, there isn’t a weak link anywhere in the compact cast and there’s a palpable chemistry between Dorothy’s three chums: Jamie Lemetti (Scarecrow), Alan Mirren (Tin Man) and Liam Webster (Lion) who have an ease and fine timing with each other that ensures each joke lands its punchline. Stand out among the cast is the engaging Garry King who manages to deliver an eye-watering number of roles with a glint in his eye and a spring in his step, getting the audience firmly onside from the get-go. The dancers are well-drilled, and the choreography is sufficiently diverse to keep the interest up. For those wondering, yes, there are Munchkins, many, many, Munchkins, played by members of local dance and drama organisations. The Wicked Witch is sufficiently over-the-top camp and Stephen McLaughlin who plays her, has a powerful but soulful voice which he utilises to great effect here as does Kate Richards as the Good Witch (and Aunt Em).

If it’s bang for your buck you are looking for then you need look no further than Eastwood Park. At almost two and a half hours long, the show is packed with content, delivered by an enormously talented cast, everyone giving their all no matter what their role.

Eastwood Park is an exemplary theatre: great programming; a theatre with excellent sight lines; accessible; friendly, helpful staff and family affordable tickets – what more could you want?

Runs until 30 December 2022 – Tickets here

WHAT’S ON: SLEEPING BEAUTY AT PLATFORM, EASTERHOUSE

“I can guarantee this will be unlike any Sleeping Beauty you have seen before!” Lewis Hetherington

Platform return this Christmas (Tue 6 – Fri 23 Dec) with a brand-new production of Sleeping Beauty.

Family friendly and full of all the puns and all the fun, Sleeping Beauty takes place in ‘Mattress World’, where Big Jimmy is the King of Low Prices!  Jimmy likes to dress as Elvis to entertain the customers, but really, he’s doing it all for his daughter Beauty – just don’t call her that! She goes by B and likes nothing better than exploring the wild woods with her dog Rocket…

They seem to have everything sorted…until it emerges that an evil curse has been put on B – and life as the family know it is threatened. Will B, Big Jimmy or Rocket save the day in time for Christmas?

From playwright Lewis Hetherington and the creative team behind Mother Goose Fae Easterhoose­, expect jokes, songs and raucous storytelling as we get everyone in the festive spirit and ready for Christmas.

Writer Lewis Hetherington said: “I can guarantee this will be unlike any Sleeping Beauty you have seen before. I don’t want to give anything away… but my first thought was Beauty is this great dynamic young character, but often she spends the whole show asleep, and then some random prince turns up.

“I didn’t want that, so I found a whole new way to tell the story – you’ll have to come see it to find out what happens”. We have a brilliant cast, the set is great, and the whole show is full of jokes and surprises, and a really gripping new version of a well-loved story. It’ll make you feel full of festive joy and bring a bit of warmth and magic into this crazy old world. (Read the full interview with Lewis here).

Yolanda Mitchell (Holding/Holding On – National Theatre of Scotland & soon to be seen in Mayflies) takes on the role of Beauty, Irene Allan (Wilf & Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) joins us as Big Jimmy, Itxaso Moreno (The Time Machine) is Beauty’s dog Rocket and no Christmas show is complete without a villain as we welcome Jo Freer (The Steamie) as The Evil Queen. Directed by Matt Addicott.

With free parking, the Platform café bar and swimming pool and library all with The Bridge, there’s lots to see and do when visiting.

Tue 6 – Fri 23 Dec 2022 | Day & evening performances | all ages from 5yrs & up

Tickets from £5: www.platform-online.co.uk

WHAT’S ON: Sleeping Beauty at Platform this festive season

Family friendly and packed full of fun, Platform presents a brand-new production of Sleeping Beauty – from the creative team behind the celebrated, sold-out festive show Mother Goose Fae Easterhoose­! Expect jokes, songs and raucous storytelling as everyone gets in the festive spirit and ready for Christmas!

Created for everyone over the age of 5, Sleeping Beauty takes place in ‘Mattress World’, where Big Jimmy is the King of Low Prices!  Jimmy likes to dress as Elvis to entertain the customers, but really, he’s doing it all for his daughter Beauty – just don’t call her that! She goes by B and likes nothing better than exploring the wild woods with her dog Rocket!

They seem to have everything sorted…until it emerges that an evil curse has been put on B – and life as the family know it is threatened. Will B, Big Jimmy or Rocket save the day in time for Christmas?

Book your seat for this December and come and find out!

TICKET INFO HERE

**FOR GROUP BOOKINGS PLEASE CONTACT ZARA@PLATFORM-ONLINE.CO.UK / PRE-ORDERED GOODY BAGS AVAILABLE FOR GROUPS**

Images: Iain McLean Photography

NEWS: Cast Announced for Eastwood Park Theatre’s Wizard of Oz

Eastwood Park Theatre has announced its pantomime cast for The Wizard of Oz, which takes to the stage for almost sixty shows from 25 November – 30 December.

The line-up features Scottish talent who have trained and performed across the UK, as Spillers Pantomimes returns to the Giffnock theatre for a second year.

25-year-old Alex Rea, from Lanark, secured the role of Dorothy after wowing panto producers during her audition. Alex trained at the University of Chichester and the International College of Musical Theatre and already has a string of theatre, film and music credits to her name.

Alex said: “I’m thrilled and extremely grateful for the opportunity to perform back on home soil as part of the Spillers cast – there really is no place like home! I’m excited for my journey along the yellow brick road at Eastwood Park Theatre and can’t wait for audiences to see what we have in store this panto season.”

Alex will be joined on her journey to the Emerald City by Alan Mirren, who plays the Tin Man, Liam Webster who seeks courage as the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, played by Jamie Lemetti. The trio are reuniting for the second year in a row, having performed the roles at Motherwell Theatre last year.

Scottish actor Garry King returns to take on the role of The Wizard of Oz in this year’s panto production and will co-direct Eastwood Park Theatre’s panto for the second year running. Garry, who trained at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, has been a permanent fixture on the UK pantomime scene for a number of years. Garry’s dog Sandra, a three-year-old highland maltie, will join the team as Dorothy’s faithful dog, Toto.

Stephen McLaughlin, from Cambuslang, will take on the villainous role of the Wicked Witch. Stephen, who graduated from the Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre in 2019, has played a number of roles in a variety of productions and is also known by his drag stage name, Bonnie Banks. The Good Witch will be played by Kate Richards.

The panto’s head dancer will be Emma Willis Richards. Emma has performed in pantomimes since she was nine years old and has pursued a professional career on stage, graduating from Performers College in 2019.

The cast will be supported on stage by talented junior performers who will take on the role of the Munchkins. The rising stars come from a range of dance and theatre schools including Eastwood Park Theatre Juniors, Go Kids Scotland, Karen Burns School of Dance, Fab Stars School of Dance and East Kilbride Stagecoach.

Anthony McReavy from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure added: “We’re excited to announce the cast for The Wizard of Oz and can’t wait for them to grace our stage at Eastwood Park Theatre. Thousands came to sell-out shows last year and this year, we’re planning an even bigger panto production, with a magical journey along the yellow brick road to Oz. Panto season is fast approaching so book your tickets now.”

British Sign Language and relaxed performances will be available.

Tickets for The Wizard of Oz are on sale now priced from £12 with Family tickets available from £50

Buy tickets at https://www.ercultureandleisure.org/events/the-wizard-of-oz/ or call Eastwood Park Theatre box office on 0141 577 4956.

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/

 

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