Paul Elliott and Allan Stewart (Writers), Paul Elliot (director), Roger Hannah (choreographer), Richard Anderson (musical director), Hugh Durrant (designer), Chris Wilcox (lighting designer), Gary Hind (musical supervisor), Beth Eden (additional lyrics) The Twins Worldwide Ltd (visual special effects) Raymond Short (fight director).
Everyone loves a good panto, and it doesn’t get any better than the traditional Edinburgh panto at the King’s Theatre. This year we are treated to the story of Cinderella, with a wee shake and a bit of a stir that delivered a cocktail of the usual panto madness and a whole heap of fun.
In the beginning, we see Cinderella living happily in McSquirrel Mansion with her mum, Baroness McSquirrel, and an ageing Buttons who is secretly in love with mum. The only fly in the ointment is mum’s third husband who is a drinker and gambler. However, they soon get the news that he has lost everything in a gambling match to the evil McPhlegm twins, before drowning in a vat of whisky. Once the twins move in to McSquirrel Mansion, take on the ‘ugly sisters’ roles, and treat Cinders (and her mum) like servants, the plot then treads, more or less, down its familiar path.
The ugly twin sisters were a riot, with Grant Stott playing the real baddie, Gobina, in an array of hilarious OTT costumes and towering at about seven foot tall in his heels. His wee sister Hocktoo played by Ross Marshall, at somewhere under five foot - even in heels - provided many opportunities for visual comedy and slapstick moments: appearing without warning from under voluminous skirts and generally being quite literally pushed around by his giant sister. There was an enormous cheer when the worm turned in the final scene and gave Gobina a right gobful.
This production didn’t miss a trick, containing all the expected elements and with a few roles brought up to date for a 21st Century audience. There was the Fairy Godmother - younger, cheekier and chattier than is traditional; a gentle, though thankfully more opinionated, Cinders and instead of a principal boy who is really a girl we had a Prince who was a real man and not afraid to bare his chest, showing impressive pecs, abs and the rest. Cinders going off to the ball in a helicopter was another update I’m sure didn’t appear in my ladybird book!
Saving the best ‘til last, Allan Stewart as Baroness McSquirrel was the absolute star of the show, and with Andy Gray as Buttons, they made a great double act. Some of the best laughs came from Stewart’s quick-change impressions - Hilary from the Dragon’s Den and the huge Go Compare tenor to name but two. There were the usual local and current references with the trams, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and X Factor all baring the brunt of Stewart’s sharp wit. There were many jokes at Hibs’s expense – perhaps as a wind-up to Stott who is a huge Hibs supporter: Stewart says, ‘I’ve got my Hibs bra on - no cups and no much support’ etc.
There was lots of magic and fun for the wee ones and plenty of adult humour for us bigger ones. Buttons gets his girl in the end, with mum answering affirmatively to the romantic, ‘Will you be my bag for life?’. Cinders’ wedding had snow, a meringue dress and a horse-drawn fairytale carriage, pulled by two gorgeous wee ponies with another bringing up the rear.
Finishing on a high with everyone joining in to Rockin’ All Over the World and the whole audience on their feet, this was a rockin’ great panto that left you on a high. Just one thing – late-comers beware, as you will be literally in the spotlight with a large part of the cast singing the ‘You’re Late’ song at you – classic!
Runs til 22 January 2012