Beauty & The Beast – Glasgow King’s Theatre

Written by Alan McHugh

Directed by Kathryn Rooney

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A tale as old as time. Sort of. We’ll get to that.

But it’s that time of year again everyone, ah yes, Pantomime time. A time for fun, frivolity, glee, and big-name performers to pay the mortgage. Cynicism aside – it’s also the time when most people make what is their only trip to the theatre that year. And if they do only make one visit, well, they could do a hell of a lot worse than the King’s Pantomime: Beauty and the Beast.

You’ll likely know the tale of the Beast, cursed in punishment for his vicious and repulsive nature, to uncover the meaning of true love before the final petal of an enchanted petal falls. And not only that, the servants of the castle to are trapped within this spell – cursed to spend all but one day of your life trapped within the Castle, well, it’s enough to drive you Potty.

If you’ve ever been at the bar with Elaine C Smith, you’ll know the sensational grasp she has with storytelling, humour, gin, and sincerity that few can challenge us Scots over when it comes to finding something touching in something so ridiculous. And it’s not many who can bring the crowd to tears with a rousing rendition of Loch Lomond and pick them right back up again with a side-splitting round-up of the Twelve Gifts of Christmas Clydetown. The glue holding the cast together as Mrs Potty, this tea-potted dame leads a few familiar faces for the King’s Pantomime in entertaining audiences from all over Scotland.

And when paired with regular partners Johnny Mac and Darren Brownlie, well, there’s not much one can do but surrender to the laughs and accept their fate. This trio manage the incredible – making those jokes found on the Christmas-cracker-factory floor work. We know the jokes are cheesy, and we know the jokes are stale, but the mark of a fab panto performer is transforming these groan-worthy gags into something salvageable, and dare we say, brilliant. Both Brownlie and Mac are masters of the crowd, lifting the faces of those unsure, and embracing the cheer flung onto the stage, Mac bringing out the untainted joy from the younger members of the crowd.

Some visitors from Perthshire’s theatres may recognise this Belle of the ball, Blythe Jandoo, fresh from a stellar season at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre where she starred in Sunshine on Leith, Around The World in 80 Days and The Maggie Wall. Jandoo is, vocally and performance-wise, a natural for the role. And though Belle’s place within the story is regrettably underwritten by Alan McHugh, Jandoo still makes the role their own with a touch more agency with Kathryn Rooney’s direction to stand up to the likes of Matthew McKenna’s villainous Malky McSneer.

Stepping toe-to-toe with this evening’s princess is the only force which could match her – an Enchantress. Together with Jandoo, Rachael Flynn’s presence as the Enchantress who curses the Beast kicks off the story in a traditional storybook way, flittering on high before delivering superb vocals, managing to harmonise expertly with Richard Anderson and the king’s Orchestra.

Halloween may be a distant memory, but that doesn’t stop Karen Martin’s choreography from enhancing the Pantomime’s more chilling sequences involving Ghosts, Wolves, and Brownlie in a remarkably *ahem* well-fitting pink playsuit. And though brief, both this spectral-spooky caper and the battle with the wolves lead to a much-needed injection of momentum away from the stationary cast delivering the comedic sequences.

A charming and exceptional good time feeling Panto for the entire family. With just enough thorns to offset the saccharine petals, Beauty and The Beast is at its best when the cast are afforded to shift slightly from the expectant script and embrace the whimsy of it all – especially Smith, Mac, and Brownlie. Don’t miss the opportunity to reignite a passion for theatre, in any form, and introduce a new generation to these special festive performances before the final petal, and curtain falls.

Beauty & The Beast runs at the Glasgow King’s Theatre until December 31st.

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

Review published for ReviewsHub

Photo Credit – Richard Campbell

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