Published by Glasgowist.
As we snuggle down in our seats, show programme in one hand and an extra-large mixed strawberry and blue raspberry slush puppy in the other, the audience at The Kings Theatre is buzzing for the opening night of the Christmas panto, Sleeping Beauty.
There’s something about pantomime which turns everyone into big kids. With the extravagant, over the top costume, candy-coloured, glitter-covered set, kids hyped up on sweeties running around with Santa hats and light up wands, and the wee man selling tiny pots of overpriced ice-cream at the interval, the setting always inspires nostalgia and throws us back to primary school class trips to the panto before the Christmas holidays.
Sleeping Beauty is a Scottish retelling of the beloved fairy tale of a beautiful princess who inspires envy in a cruel enchantress who curses her to a sleeping death if she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel before her twenty-first birthday. But with Beauty’s loyal fairy godmother at her side to protect her, will she manage to escape the curse?
The Kings Theatre is synonymous with panto, as is the leading star of Sleeping Beauty, Elaine C Smith. Famous for playing the hysterical matriarch, Mary Doll, in Rab C Nesbitt and the star of Two Doors Down and City Lights, Smith is back in her playground as Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmother, Fairy Bella. A treasure of Glasgow stage and screen, Smith brings a new dimension to the show’s humour with her lovable-mammy-meets-Glasgow-tough-bird persona.
The gags in Sleeping Beauty, specific with inside jokes suited to a West of Scotland audience, add a personal, family touch to the show. Smith’s cameo as a Glaswegian Adele singing ‘Haw You’ at Sleeping Beauty’s twenty-first birthday party and her rendition of I Belong to Glasgow were among the hilarious yet heart-warming highlights.
Starring alongside Smith is Johnny Mac who steals the show as Fairy Bella’s dim-witted son and sidekick, Muddles. As the court jester who is secretly in love with Beauty but can’t muster up the courage to confess his true feelings, Muddles gets into all sorts of side-splitting scrapes and mischief.
The show also features Juliet Cadzow as the evil, maleficent villain Carabosse and Paul-James Corrigan as her son and reluctant, Igor-like henchman Slimeball. With the wonderful Maggie Lynne as Princess Beauty and Will Knights as Prince Calum, the pair provide the perfect true love’s first kiss and the happy ending everyone wants to see.
The impromptu engagement with audience members who are cherry-picked from the front row, and the ‘accidental’ stage blunders like the exploding lighting and the falling of the curtain which reveals a stage full of cast members, stage hands, and dancers loitering behind the scenes and scurrying to their positions gave the audience proper belly laughs.
It is when things go wrong, whether intentionally or otherwise, and we spot Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac biting their bottom lip to hold back laughter at their latest misspoken line or a joke that only the adults get that makes this Glasgow panto such great fun.
The repetitive, slapstick humour, the breaking of the fourth wall and total disregard for traditional theatre etiquette, and the cast’s ability to make fun of themselves and pantomime itself immediately puts the audience at ease and encourages us to loosen up and have a good time.
It’s undeniable that Sleeping Beauty is a family affair, filled with everything you could want to see in your Christmas panto including lively music, silly physical comedy, a loathsome villain, a Disney happy ending, and a few cryptic jokes for the grownups, too. For the perfect cherry on top of this year’s Christmas cake, get down to The Kings Theatre this December.
Have you seen Sleeping Beauty? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.