GLASGOW is full of mistreated princesses, miserable old misers and the odd flying pony, which can only mean one thing.

It is panto season - and this year, venues across the city are putting on a show like never before.

Here is a round-up of reviews and suggestions for the best ones to see this Christmas.


KING’S THEATRE, Bath Street, Runs until January 2.

Glasgow Times: Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac in Cinderella at the King's. Pic: Douglas Robertson

There is something magical about this year’s King’s panto, which has nothing to do with fancy effects or sleight-of-hand costume trickery.

All the perfect panto ingredients are there - the silliness and slapstick, the stunning costumes and spectacular song-and-dance routines, the slick script and joyous performances to a man, woman and talking teddy bear.

Elaine C Smith rules the roost as the Fairy Godmother and Johnny Mac is exceptional as a Buttons the audience (and our younger reviewers, Archie, 17 and Harry, 13) really care about. His madcap recap of the action – how does he do that? - is a masterclass in comic timing. Meanwhile, the whole family loved the permanently harassed Dandini, Darren Brownlie, who, now that he has made his King’s panto debut, must always be in it, as he is magnificent.

Glasgow Times: Darren Brownlie. Pic: Douglas Robertson

Tinashe Warikandwa and Christopher Jordan-Marshall make a delightful Cinderella and Prince Charming, while Santa hats off to Joanne McGuinness and Angela Darcy, the suitably spiteful and sharp-tongued Ugly Sisters.

But on top of all of that, there is such heart to this traditional tale, which has so much love for Glasgow and its people woven into the songs and the story, it is at times unexpectedly, genuinely moving (as well as face-achingly hilarious.) On our review night, the response from the audience – a lengthy standing ovation and resounding cheers – said it all. Thank Panto, Smith and Mac are back, and all is right with the world.


Glasgow Times: Cinderella pantomime at the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow.

Photograph by Martin Shields

PAVILION THEATRE, Renfield Street Runs until January 8

Cinderella is a city favourite this year – she is also the star of the show at the Pavilion and reviewers Skyla and River Potter, aged 14 and 12 respectively, with big sister Estrella, 20 and mum and dad Susan and Robert, were thoroughly impressed.

A stellar cast, including Grado and Stephen Purdon as the Ugly Sisters, Alyson Orr as the Fairy Godmother, Julie Matheson as Cinders, Liam Dolan as Buttons and Nicola Auld as the Baroness, plus a brilliant blend of Glasgow panto nostalgia, hi tech wizardry and modern references to keep the young audience members happy, got the thumbs up from the whole family.

Highlights included, for Skyla and River, the hilarious double act of Boabina and Gradina in full flow and for the grown-ups, Dolan’s impeccable impersonations – particularly his rendition of gravelly-voiced Roisin from River City.

Skyla reckons the fox-hunting scene is probably the ‘scariest bit for younger children’ and everyone was blown away by the laser show and snowfall…’proper panto magic’.

A bright and cheerful set, which looked brand spanking new and improved, points out Susan, was the perfect backdrop for cheesy music, daft jokes, amazing performances and a magical night out.


Glasgow Times: Tim Morozzo

CITIZENS THEATRE, Tramway, Albert Drive, Runs until Christmas Eve.

Deceptively simple, beautifully told and by turns completely heartwarming and spine-chillingly spooky, A Christmas Carol is the Citizens Company’s enchanting take on the Dickens classic.

A story of kindness towards others is always resonant at Christmas but this year, it feels particularly timely and poignant.

Benny Young is a fantastic Scrooge, thrawn and bitter and downright nasty at the start, as he barks at poor Bob Cratchit and gruffly dismisses carol singers and charity collectors; but so merry and gentle at the end once he has learned his festive lesson with the help of some fairly terrifying ghosts.

(Note to families with young children – this production is billed as suitable for six years and up, but it would be a fairly hardy six-year-old who could cope with these apparitions, in my opinion…)

This has something for all the family – and our family loved every second of it, from the superb acting and musical skills of a talented and hardworking ensemble cast – Jamie Leary, Samuel Pashby, Rachel Campbell, Laura Cairns, Ewan Miller and Michael Guest - to the brilliant sound effects (Harry, 13, and Archie, 17, were entranced by fantastic details like the bell and snow flurry which accompanied every entrance to Scrooge’s office.)

Time is of the essence in this tale, of course, and adapted by director Dominic Hill to run for just one hour and 10 minutes straight through, it is over too quickly. The storytelling, exquisite staging and wonderful performances, however, will stay in the heart for much, much longer.


Laugh yourself silly and marvel at all the jaw-dropping special effects on display in the SEC’s version of Aladdin which features a star-studded line-up including Gary McLintoch, otherwise known as Gary:Tank Commander; Still Game favourite Sanjeev Kohli; and River City actor, Leah MacRae. Runs until December 29.

Mr MacNeep Has Lost His Sheep is the enchanting new story from Scottish Opera Productions at SOP Studios on Edington Street. It is a magical, fun-filled story all about the importance of friendship, and it has been written especially for three- to seven-year-olds. Runs until December 20.

A Christmas Carol tells the story of auld Scrooge, who is in anything but a festive mood. But this will be a Christmas he will never forget as he is visited by three bonkers ghosts looking to show him the error of his ways. Halo Arts perform at Maryhill Community Central Halls until from December 16 to 19.

A festive treat for families with children aged under 12, Olive the Other Reindeer is a sweet story of a young trainee reindeer who dreams of delivering presents to all the children at Christmas. When she discovers there is a naughty list, however, Olive is on a mission to make sure everyone has something special to unwrap on Christmas morning. It’s at the Tron Theatre until December 24.