Dame on: Pantomimes in Scotland 2008
This article is from 2008.
Kirstin Innes takes a look at what’s on stage over the festive period. Oh yes she does. No, really
There’s been something of a shift in the pantomime world over the last few years. Traditional pantos – innuendo-laden fairy tales replete with dame and a couple of faces off the telly – are still going strong, but increasingly, theatres have begun to find interesting, alternative ways to make you feel warm and fuzzy over the festive season. From stage adaptations of modern children’s books, inventive takes on the darker classics to all singing, all dancing versions of much-loved movies or shows with absolutely no Christmassy element in them whatsoever, here are The List’s top picks.
Lions and witches and bears, oh my
Two sites at different ends of Glasgow are claiming to be the start of the Yellow Brick Road this year, with versions of The Wizard of Oz popping up at the Citz (see our interview with Dorothy, above), and, intriguingly, the Pavilion, where The Wizard of Never Woz, starring Des McLean, signals a break from the venue’s usual Disney-panto format.
Over in Edinburgh, the biggest, most spectacular production of the year promises to be the Lyceum’s huge-scale recreation of Narnia, as they take on CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Look out for wisecracking fauns, faux fur, fantastic furniture and kindly rather than cowardly lions – The List will be going through the wardrobe in our next issue, too.
The Wizard of Never Woz, Pavilion, Glasgow, Wed 3 Dec–Sat 24 Jan, 0141 332 1846.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri 28 Nov–Sat 3 Jan, 0131 248 4848.
Ho, ho, ho
Grown-ups in need of a little laughter amid the economic gloom should head to the Tron, where Mother Bruce (pictured, ___ ) promises to take the odd satirical sideswipe at Scottish history – rather than a goose that lays golden eggs, it’s a spider that spins golden threads. Rumours that the Tron will be hiring a bodyguard for the spider to protect her from the grabbing hands of recently unemployed bankers are unfounded.
The Oran Mor are also offering a festive spin on their lunchtime format – this year’s Panto, a Pie and a Pint is Babes in the Wood, and as it comes from the pens of former Thatcher-baiters Davids McLennan and Anderson of Wildcat Theatre, expect the odd politically-slanted chuckle. NB: you get your lunch and a drink included in the entry price, so this show offers better value than the other pantos, although you’re less likely to get hit by a flying penny sweetie.
Mother Bruce, Tron, Glasgow, Sat 29 Nov–Sun 4 Jan, 0141 552 4267.
Babes in the Wood, Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 1–Sat 20 Dec, 0141 357 6200.
There’s a whole range of shows targeted at very young children this year, so parents who prefer their festive entertainment without saucy asides or Cinderella’s cleavage can pick gentler-paced productions. The Playhouse in Edinburgh leads the way on this one, with a totally charming version of Judith Kerr’s lovely wee story The Tiger Who Came to Tea. It’s a very easy-going and visually familiar adaptation of the best-selling picture book, complete with sing-a-longs to keep tiny toes tapping, and a loveable, not too scary tiger.
Back at the Tron in Glasgow, Little Rudi, the story of a baby reindeer who wants to grow up to pull Santa’s sleigh, is more traditional Christmassy fare, while just along the road, the Arches continue their beautiful adaptations of fairytales for very wee ones with The Snow Queen.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Playhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 12–Sat 27 Dec, 0870 606 3424.
Little Rudi, Tron, Glasgow, Sat 6–Wed 24 Dec, 0141 552 4267.
Can’t stand all the Christmas trimmings, but still dig that whole ‘goodwill to all men’ vibe? You want to head for the Festival Theatre, where a couple of dour 80s throwbacks making ironic jokes about the bad weather over Edinburgh promise to be the big hit of the festive season. Yup, Dundee Rep’s much-loved and hugely-acclaimed Proclaimers musical Sunshine on Leith is back. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with Christmas at all, but it’s lovely and will get you all welled up with nostalgia.
Sunshine on Leith, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 5 Dec–Sat 3 Jan. 0131 529 6000.
Pantos, pantos everywhere
For your traditionalist, there are still a few of the usual ‘he’s-behind-you’, dames, fairies and a children’s chorus-style panto spectaculars on the go. Panto staple Grant Stott is joined by a 3D CGI genie and a former Miss UK as his Princess Jasmine in the Edinburgh King’s Theatre’s high-tech Aladdin, while over at the King’s in Glasgow they’re on safer ground as the redoubtable Gerard Kelly looks out his famous wig for Cinderella, for which he’s joined again by Karen Dunbar. Cinderella again, but with a Fame Academy spin, is the Christmas show at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, while elsewhere it’s a battle of the Beasts: both Dundee Rep and Paisley Arts Centre are reinventing Beauty and the Beast for 2008, while the Beauties are a bit less active over at the Brunton, where it’s all about Sleeping Beauty.
Aladdin, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Sat 29 Nov–Sun 18 Jan, 0141 529 6000.
Cinderella, King’s Theatre Glasgow, Fri 28 Nov–Sun 11 Jan, 0870 060 6648.
Cinderella, Byre Theatre St Andrews, Wed 3–Fri 19 Dec, 01334 475000.
Beauty and The Beast, Paisley Arts Centre, Fri 28 Nov–Sat 3 Jan, 0141 887 1010.
Beauty and the Beast, Dundee Rep, Wed 3 Dec– Fri 2 Jan, 01382 223530.
Sleeping Beauty, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Fri 21 Nov –Sat 3 Jan, 0131 665 2240.
Goodnight, sweet prince
Finally, if you like ALL of your fairytales at once, you could do worse than this year’s other Sleeping Beauty, Ashley Page’s new version for Scottish Ballet, which premiered last year. They’ve managed to sneak in guest appearances from Cinderella, Snow White and Red Riding Hood, alongside the traditional array of charming princes and fairies good, bad and ambiguous. Scottish Ballet also claim that this will be the most decadent and opulent production of the year, and, as we haven’t seen any other festive shows boasting that their costumes include over 8,000 hand-sewn sequins, we’re inclined to agree with them.
Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Sat 6–Sat 27 Dec, 0870 060 6647.
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 7–Sat 10 Jan, tickets as above.