King’s Theatre panto sends everyone home happy
As much a part of the Glaswegian festive season as green and blue santa hats, the King’s Theatre panto looks like an institution defiant of change. So it is refreshing to find a new face, Arron Usher as Jimmy Jingles the Jester, going through the familiar motions with an energy the crowd could not resist. The traditional celebrity cast member and faces off the telly need ballast and Tony Roper – Jamesie Cotter in a spangly cloak and veteran thesps Kathryn Howden and Steven McNicoll – do a fine job.
Karen Dunbar as Nanny is, in many ways, the natural successor to Stanley Baxter. Her androgyny makes for a grand dame and her background in karaoke ensures that the musical numbers – especially Shang-A-Lang, performed in Westwoodesque tartan frock and red DMs – are a delight.
Casting Clare Grogan as Carabosse feels like an excuse to wheel out ‘Happy Birthday’ in a show about a young girl turning 18. Performing her biggest hit, in a purple tutu, while waving a giant needle and dancing with a life-size teddy, goes beyond pantomime and not in a good way.
The sets and the costumes are feeling the cold hand of the recession, with several repeats and fewer visual fireworks than yesteryear. Prince Joseph’s fight with a projected dragon is particularly underpowered. There are a couple of superfluous musical numbers and one out of date joke – Clatty Pats closed in 2006. But Nanny more than saves the day and sends everyone home happy.
Kings Theatre, Glasgow, until Sun 8 Jan