Cinderella

Pantomime, as we’re reminded by the Ambassador Theatre Group’s pre-show video (narrated by Brian Blessed), is a peculiarly British theatrical tradition, although it’s a shame that this somewhat generic introduction (unchanged since last year, and presumably shown across the UK) doesn’t recognise the particular Glaswegian accents of the long-established King’s Theatre pantomime. Or, indeed, what is surely the single-most important tradition for any panto—the fact that, for cast and family audiences alike, it is a personal tradition, an annual reunion under the pretext of some fairy tale.

The result is a genuinely heart-warming entertaining evening that you won’t find anywhere else

The shadow of the late, great Gerard Kelly—who headlined pantomimes at the Glasgow King’s for two decades—is slowly fading, as it must, with new traditions beginning to form. One obvious example of this is that Glasgow-born stand-up comedian and radio presenter Des Clarke—here in his fifth consecutive King’s Panto, once again playing Buttons—can now get genuine laughs simply from making overt references to previous shows, knowing that most of his audience will understand. Meantime, for a second year the show’s nominal headline act is Gregor Fisher, on this occasion teamed up with long-standing Rab C Nesbitt co-star Tony Roper as Cinderella’s “ugly sisters”, Euphemia and Lavinia.

However, anyone thinking that this is the Gregor and Tony show is mistaken; while the audience laps up the pair (especially when they—inevitably—at one point slip into their Rab C personas), this new production of Cinderella is a surprisingly strong ensemble piece, with writer Eric Potts and director Morag Fullarton between them ensuring that the all-too-familiar story actually has some real dramatic cohesion and genuine characterisation. Gary Lamont, for example, has something to work with as Prince Charming’s slightly camp, list-ticking servant Dandini, a character that in other versions is often as thin as cardboard.

Ian West’s choreography is of course full-on exuberance, but it isn’t just there for the sake of multi-coloured spectacle—the first meeting between Cinderella (a warm-voiced performance from Gilian Ford) and Prince Charming (Josh Tevendale) is the inevitable result of the choreography; it’s then up to the actors to utterly convince us about the reality of love at first sight, which (for once) they successfully do. Indeed, Gregor and Tony are used relatively sparingly—perhaps because of the time it takes them to get in and out of their increasingly OTT costumes—but while they clearly have the audience’s “warm” hostility whenever on stage, the show doesn’t “drop” in energy when they’re not.

What helps the most, however, is that this production of Cinderella—unlike last year’s Snow White—doesn’t just feel like a generic show into which a few “local” references have been dropped in; this is a return, of sorts, to a genuinely Glaswegian panto not afraid to reference people and institutions close to home. The result is a genuinely heart-warming entertaining evening that you won’t find anywhere else—and that, surely, is the point. See you next year. 

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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★★
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★★★
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Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

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★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

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★★★★
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★★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Yes – we’ll all go to the ball! This Christmas we welcome back the magic of the Fairy Godmother, the sparkle of a pair of glass slippers and of course the beautiful (oh no they’re not!) Ugly Sisters as Cinderella, the Godmother of all pantos, makes a welcome return to the King’s Theatre.

Returning for the second year running as one half of them awfy Ugly Sisters is Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt, Naked Video). Gregor’s old chum Tony Roper (Rab C Nesbitt, The Steamie) is back in his squad as a fellow ugly alongside King’s panto favourite Des Clarke (Capital FM) as Buttons. River City’s Gary Lamont stars as Dandini with Elaine MacKenzie Ellis (Rab C Nesbitt, Me Too) as the Fairy Godmother also taking to the ballroom floor. Completing the cast is our Prince Josh Tevendale (Avenue Q) and of course, Cinderella herself, Gillian Ford. It’s gonnae have to be some size of pumpkin carriage for this lot!

And remember - Cinderella can choose her friends, but she cannae choose her family! Various times and performances. Check website for further details.

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