Hansel and Gretel (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow) (3 stars)

Hansel and Gretel

Musical theatre of dry ice, flashing lights and belting numbers

The Citz, of recent years, have taken their festive shows down a musical theatre route and Alan McHugh’s Hansel and Gretel ticks all the genre’s boxes. Older audience members may prefer a quirkier Christmas production but the dry ice, flashing lights and belting numbers has an audience of primary school children transfixed.

Jennifer Harraghy, taking her first professional role as the evil witch stepmother Vanya, has a fine set of pipes, a grand cackle and a masterful swish of her fur-trimmed cape. She rather overpowers the rest of the cast, with only Gemma McElhinney, a feisty Gretel, playing at the same level. The costumes and sets lack the Citz’ usual wit and magic, with only the Love Heart sweet on the front gingerbread house – with the legend Eat Me – raising a smile.

Claire McKenzie’s score, played live music by a four-strong ensemble, do a lot to keep things cracking along and youngsters raised on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV shows lap it up. But it left me pining for the old days.

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 7 Jan

Hansel and Gretel

The Citz' Christmas production is a new and inventive take on the classic Grimm fairy tale about two sweet-toothed children who must get over their sibling squabbles in order to escape the grasp of an evil witch.

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