The Edinburgh King’s Theatre is widely renowned for it’s spectacular pantomimes. Yearly the fantastic trio Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott bless the stage giving us an Edinburgh spin on a classic fairytale. Last year Andy Gray was sadly missing from the humongous hit that was ‘Beauty and The Beast‘ due to him being no well, however this year he is back with his pals for ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears‘. So, to see what the legendary panto trio have got in store for us this year, I went along to the old girl on leven street to watch “The Greatest Show On Earth”.
‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears‘ is a bit different from the tale we know, it is set in May and Andy McReekie’s circus, which is under threat from the vilianous Baron Von Vinklebottom. The Baron is nitorious for harming animals and when he gets wind that McReekies have three bears as their stars of the show he sets out an evil plan to steal them. Can the McReekies save the bears with the help of their daughter Goldilocks and Joey the Clown?
Allan Stewart returns as Dame May McReekie. Allan is the best dame in the UK, there is no doubt about that. His energy, incredible witt and just hillarious comic timing is loved by all audiences. Theres something special about his performance that just makes audiences feel warm and happy, that is a key feature of being a dame. At the age of sixty-nine there is just no sign of slowing down for this seasoned performer.
HERE COMES ANDY! Andy Gray is back as Andy McReekie (the ringmaster). It is great to have this man back on the king’s stage. He comes re-energized, ready to hit us full pelt with his silly humor, showcase his strong dynamic with Allan and Grant. Plus even give us his best shot at ventriliquism. He’s back, and back to stay!
Grant Stott is lapping up the zebra print costume this year and also hillariously struggling with a German accent as Baron Von Vinklebottom. This is perhaps not the best villain that Grant has played but it is lapped up by kids and adults a like for the absurdity featured.
Jordan Young makes a whopper of a king’s debut performance as Joey the Clown. Jordan is a perfect fit into the usual line up, our trio has now turned into a quartet and it is a very welcomed change as he adds brilliantly to the dynamic. A highlight of the show is his amazing tightrope walk and lets not forget about his donkey! Cannot wait to see him in future productions.
Gillian Parkhouse is delightful as Goldilocks! It is so great to see this actress return for a third year! She supplies great vocals to numbers such as “One Last Time” and “Hot Stuff”. We know from last year that she wasn’t afraid to get stuck into the comic side of her characters, however this year there seems to be a lack of involvement within the comic side. Still, her portrayal of goldilocks is one which captures audiences of all ages.
The three fifer bears are rarely within the production yet when featured seem a little bit of a miss in terms of the comedy aspect the team are trying to go for, however, they were still portrayed with energy and humour from Claire Gray, Ross Finnie and Darren Brownlie.
In this production the circus aspect of the show featured the utterly superb Berserk Riders, whose stunts leave audiences on the edge of their seat wanting more. The show also featured The Great Juggling Alfio, who at first dazzles the audience with his clear talent, yet his act drags on far too long. Leaving the audience looking at their watches and wondering what happened to the rest of the panto.
The sparkly ensemble do well to lift energy in scenes with great choreography and singing. The ensemble in this production are as follows; Lois Brookes, Dan Holland, Amy Kent, Joseph Gonzawa, Katy Kedslie, Stefanie Meikle, Amadeus Williams, Robert Sharpe and the Edinburgh Dance Academy.
Ed Curtis directs this panto after the great success of ‘Beauty and the Beast‘, however ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears‘ is very a different being to last years show. The direction seems very much focused on raw variety theatre rather than the fairytale story it uses as a stimulus. This of course will be partly to do with the script supplied by Allan Stewart and Alan McHugh. Some of the variety works, some feels way too long, especially the juggling act and one or two of the sketches, but there is still the heart of a king’s panto within this production. Another big difference in this production is less visual affects and a toned back set from Ian Westbrook 3D creations, which is still bursting with colour thanks to Matt Clutterham’s dazzling lighting design. Andy Pickering’s musical direction is once again brilliant, with the band sounding better than ever. However with the help of Rick Coate’s supervision, there could have been more suited songs to some of the scenes, as kids in the audience were scratching their heads with some of the decisions made. Karen Martin’s choreography for these numbers manage to dazzle and enrich the score of this pantomime.
‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears‘ is a change of pace from the normal pantos we see at Edinburgh King’s Theatre, however it is fun, full of colour and absurdity. It is also a celebration for the return of the hilarious Andy Gray. If you are looking for a good family panto this christmas then get yourself to Leven Street.
Written by Lewis C. Baird
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