United Kingdom Critic
Every year during the Christmas season, 90,000 people decent upon the quaint King’s Theatre on Leven Street in Edinburgh, for what has to be the best pantomime in Scotland, or perhaps even the United Kingdom. Many people make this visit a tradition during the run up to Christmas or New Year, and each year the fabulous trio that is Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Andy Gray gain the hearts of millions with their fabulous performances. This year, unfortunately, Andy Gray has had to drop out, which leaves the audience in the very capable hands of Alan Stewart and Grant Stott, however, did they manage to make up for being a man down?
This year’s pantomime is based on the much-loved Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve fairytale, “Beauty and The Beast”. This version follows the story of village girl Belle, who meets her Auntie May’s master, the beast, who has been cursed and will stay as a beast unless he shows kindness. Obviously, there are the usual spectacles, musical numbers and side-splitting comedy routines.
Allan Stewart is back as dame, playing Mrs May Potty, this man is an unstoppable force. He is simply outstanding as the dame, year after year, he also seems to be getting younger as the years go on! His comic timing is flawless, his singing voice is brilliant, and his ability to adapt the audience is staggering. One of the main reasons this Panto is the best one out there, is because Allan is unquestionably the best dame in the UK.
Grant Stott has the removed his heels from last year’s production of “Cinderella” and has trotted right into the shoes of Flash Boaby. Fantastically, this character gives Grant much more stage time and also more time to spend with Allan, the comedy routines between the two of them are great. Also, Grant’s version of the Bond theme, “You Know My Name”, is possibly better than the original. Plus, Grant, dusts off an old fan favourite, which still pleases audiences years on. Oh yes, Grant is on top form, even if his football team isn’t.
Gillian Parkhouse is back! This year she is playing Belle, once again her vocal talent is superb. Acting wise Gillian supplies her version of the iconic fairytale character, making her a bit more fiery, plus funny! She almost works as a stand in for Andy Gray, brilliantly handling some of the comic motifs which usually fall to the comic trio, however, instead Belle gets in on the action, and it works brilliantly. Gillian definitely should be a permanent fixture to the King’s panto cast. Chris Cowley is great as The Beast/Prince Calum. The Beast’s development is clear with Chris supplying a good contrast from the beast being a bitter, rude creature, to then eventually turning into the charming prince. It is the perfect portrayal for this adaptation.
Daniel Cullen plays Belle’s brother, Dougal The Inventor, this is a fun silly role, played brilliantly by Daniel, who supplies such energy to the stage, especially during the comic scene at the end of the show. Jacqueline Hughes supplies a magical portrayal as The Enchantress, she supplies brilliant vocal technique while singing and while maintaining the mysterious nature of The Enchantress, she manages to give a fairly positive aroma while being the stern woman that cursed the prince.
Once again there was a fantastic ensemble supplying the energy and backing vocals for the big numbers, this was in the form of Alice Jackson, Lauren Key, Laurie McIntyre, Pascell Mifflin, Josh Perry, Stephanie Velasco, Alastair Walker and Ed Whitehead. Plus, who can forget the very talented younger members of the cast, supplied by Edinburgh Dance Academy.
Ed Curtis returns to direct this production, he manages to make the pantomimes better each year, and always by the end of each show, you are left wanting more, which either makes you return to the production later in the run, or head home and buy your tickets for the next production. He uses the script written by Allan Stewart and Michael Harrison, choreography by Alan Harding, Lighting by Matt Clutterham and the talented musical director Andy Pickering, to create the perfect balance of storytelling, comedy, music and spectacle, which leaves the masses wanting to come back time and time again.
“Beauty and The Beast” is another winner pantomime from Qdos entertainment and the team at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre. Even though they are a player down, Allan Stewart and Grant Stott are still a fabulous duo who know how to entertain an audience. This production is a MUST see if you are near Edinburgh this Christmas. Still the best panto in all the land!
Get well soon Andy! And cannot wait to see you in “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” next year.
“Beauty and The Beast” runs at the King’s Theatre from Sunday 1st December 2018 – Sunday 20th January 2019. Check out the link below for more information on this fabulous show:
Images- Douglas Robertson.