Christmas sparkle has already swept the capital. The Gardens are gone, transformed into a glittering Winter Wonderland; you can’t fail to marvel at the attention grabbing Ferris wheel and the fairy lights decking Princes Street. What better way to banish your inner “Bah humbug” and enter the festive spirit than by stepping into the merry world of panto?
‘The Grand Old Lady of Leven Street’ (The King’s Theatre) is once again the venue of choice as curtain rises on panto season. This year, the familiar trio of Andy Gray, Allan Stewart and Grant Stott take to the stage in a magical and pacy production of Aladdin. Local panto villain Grant Stott, ironically clad in a suspicious maroon, opens the show as the mean and wicked Abanazar. The adventure unfolds as Abanazar sets out to find Aladdin, the unlikely “chosen one” from Peking, to retrieve the sought after lamp, hidden in the Cave of Wonders. In true pantomime fashion, Aladdin (Greg Barrowman) and Princess Jasmine (Miriam Elwell-Sutton) fall in love at an alarmingly fast rate and are set on marrying just minutes into their first conversation.
The real stars of the show are panto veterans, Allan Stewart and Andy Gray, who instantly lift the tempo and bring the audience onside with comedic charm in their roles as the lovable Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee. Gray simply has to utter the words “it’s only me” to receive immediate applause and together, their clever tongue twisters and play on words are a highlight of the evening.
The laundrette offers the perfect setting for gags such as the celebrity washing basket, containing clothes from the likes of Kim Kardashian, Nicola Sturgeon and Tom Daley. As expected, there were references to the summer’s commonwealth games and independence referendum, as well as the inevitable Hibs – Hearts jibes.
The show features a diverse soundtrack, from current chart topper “All About that Bass” to a parody of “Leroy Brown”, complete with local references. There is even an element of musical rivalry as Wicked’s “Defying Gravity” is fittingly performed while Allan Stewart hangs upside down from a magic carpet; a heart-stopping stunt even for the King’s.
The evening sped by as we saw our hero retrieve the lamp, defeat Abanazar and marry the girl of his dreams. The well choreographed dance routines, extravagant costumes and slapstick humour all culminate in a thoroughly entertaining performance.