***** 5 Stars
“ Pure Pantomime Perfection!”
In January 2020 the curtain fell on, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, who could have known what lay ahead! The pandemic, lock downs and the complete closure of panto season 2020/21 and worst of all the passing of King’s Theatre Edinburgh panto legend Andy Gray.
Fast forward to Christmas 2021, The King’s panto is back and what joy it is, Allan Stewart returns for his 31stseason dawning the frock as Queen May and Grant Stott slips on the heels of Villainy as Carabosse, surrounded by a company that includes Andy Gray’s daughter Clare Gray.
This is pure 5-star pantomime firing on all cylinders and it couldn’t be more appropriate as it may be the first panto back in the King’s it will also be the last until the 2024/25 season as the old lady of Leven Street closes her doors for the much-needed redevelopment. Worry not panto fans, the show will move across town to the Festival Theatre in the intervening period.
Sleeping Beauty hasn’t been staged in Edinburgh since 1993 but its tale remains a timeless story of good versus evil and the power of true loves kiss. It’s clear from the off that the King’s and Crossroads pantomimes (they bought qdos during the lockdown) have shown that no expenses have been spared, this is indeed a classy affair from start to finish.
Allan Stewart is without question a Dame at the very top of his powers, his beloved “Aunty May” character has entered royalty but retains that common touch that has adored him to audiences. With legs to die for and he has clearly decided to go for broke with his wardrobe. Stewart has costumes that knock the eye out.
Dame May isnt the only one in frocks this year as Grant Stott gets in on the act with his evil Carabosse who is a Chav inspired monster that is equally loved by the audience who boo him with glee. There are no signs of rust on Messer’s Stewart and Stott and they throw everything and the kitchen sink into their performances.
Jordan Young, He of River city and Scot Squad is back as Muddles the Jester. Young delivers a daft laddie you can’t help but be charmed by appealing to the kid in all of us but always ready with a quip that sails across the children’s heads.
Andy Gray’s legacy continues as his daughter Clare Gray returns to the Kings as Princess Narcissa daughter of Carabosse and she delivers in spades as a villain gone good. Nicola Meehan makes her debut in the panto as the Good Fairy with a voice so rich and strong it rings out across the theatre. Completing the principals is Sia Dauda as Princess Aurora the sleeping beauty of the tale sings with grace and charms in equal measure.
Ian Westbrook’s set is simply beautiful and enchanting in equal measure as it glistens under Matt Clutterham’s lighting design that not only lights the stage but brings out the magnificent Kings auditorium in all its Glory. Combined with Maggie Kennedy’s wardrobe of expensive and glittering costumes from top of the bill to the ensemble its pure class.
Alan McHugh’s script pays homage to panto in all its glory with additional writing from Allan Stewart and Grant Stott every panto sketch is given a good shake down from “Chocolate Bars” to “lyric lip-synch” to a blistering “if I were not in pantomime” all of them deliver laughter long and loud.
Dazzling effects come from the Twins FX and you don’t want to miss the finale to Act 1 The Royal Kingdom of Auchtereekie is truly a magical place to be.
It very rare for Pantomime to get emotional as pantoland is a place of laughter and light where dreams come true, and hero’s always win through. However, the Kings panto team have lost one of their own with the passing of Andy Gray and in a moment that’s beautifully judged and delivered, Andy gets one last moment in the spotlight in a tribute that’s heartfelt and brings a sustained standing ovation.
Allan Stewart and Grant Stott made Edinburgh a promise, Sleeping Beauty would see pantomime return with a Bang and they have delivered! This is a production for the ages and will live long in the memories of all who see it! Pure Pantomime Perfection!
Crossroads pantomimes present, Sleeping Beauty, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Sunday 16thJanuary 2022, for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/sleeping-beauty-2021