***** 5 Stars
“Pure Pantomime Perfection”
The King’s Theatre Glasgow has an historic and hard-earned reputation for bringing true classic pantomime to the city and wrapping it in spectacle born of love and dedication of its casts. Casts which encompass the greats in Scottish Theatre, Rikki Fulton, Jack Milroy, Una Mclean, Gerrard Kelly and Jimmy Logan are just some of the many legends enshrined in the bricks of the buildings.
That legacy and lineage now rests with the resident headline team of Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac who return with a title never performed at the King’s, that being the tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast, and my word it pure pantomime perfection from the moment the curtain rises until it falls.
The true magic of this panto is in the writing by Alan McHugh with additional material by Johnny Mac, it puts the fairy tale story at its heart but adds enough variety and pure pantomime ingredients to see it sore.
The story of Prince Sebastian (Calum McElroy) who having crossed paths with an Enchantress (the sublime Rachel Flynn) is transformed into a beast, and the only way back is to understand the power of true love before the last petal of the rose falls is at the beating heart of this show.
Elaine C Smith must be the country’s finest female dame delivering a warm hearted and utterly charming “Mrs Potty” and her performance of “Make you feel my love/Loch Lomond” brings tears to the eyes with its beauty. She also delivers the laughs alongside the divine Johnny Mac as “Jack Potty” with some classic panto sketches including “haunted bedroom”, “12 days of Christmas” and up to date live camera gag the ensnares the audience. It’s clear Johnny has earned in place amongst the king’s theatre legends.
Rachel Flynn’s full throated Enchantress sores both vocally and physically and thrills the King’s audiences, also returning to the regular team is Darren Brownlie as “Shuggie” the inventor a camp comedy creation that gives Johnny Mac a run for his money. Delivering a sweet hearted “Belle” is Blythe Jandoo but it’s wonderful to see a princess with real backbone too. Every Panto needs a baddie and the rather gorgeous and muscular Matthew McKenna brings “Malky McSneer” to life in all his snide nastiness getting the boos with ease.
Production wise the Kings have got it spot on with a gorgeous set beautifully lit by Alex Marshall, Sound design by Olly Steel and video and projection design by Duncan McLean which ensure the entire King’s auditorium comes to life in all its magnificent splendour. It even brings out the grandeur of Mike Coleman’s Costume design. Those boys at Twins FX deliver a magical moment that sees Johnny Mac Literally roar over the stalls.
Director Kathryn Rooney has truly tapped into the heart of Glasgow for this panto and sprinkles it with magic especially with Karen Martin’s accomplished choreography which is performed in style by an eight strong ensemble. The cherry on the production cake must be Musical Director Richard Anderson and his five strong orchestra in the pit, the music adds true joy to this marvellous spellbinding pantomime adventure.
Beauty and the Beast is a true joy to watch, dedicated and accomplished performances, stunning sets and costumes and huge dash of magic ensures that although it may be the first time the Beast has held the panto court at the King’s it won’t be the last. If you can only see one panto this season, make it this one, grab a ticket, let your inner child out and believe in the magic of pantomime once again.
Crossroads Pantomimes Presents “Beauty and the Beast”, The King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Runs until Saturday 31st December 2022, For further info go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/beauty-and-the-beast/kings-theatre-glasgow/