There couldn't be a more appropriate panto than this one for the welcome re-opening of Ayr Gaiety.
Since the venue went dark in 2009, the town has been a bit of a Cinderella in the Pantosphere, but no more. A local trust, the Ayr Gaiety Partnership, has (like a fairy godmother) brought the building back into use and teamed up with Michael Courtney to stage a very merry, hearteningly traditional pantomime. By rights, that should make Courtney Prince Charming. In fact, he's Buttons and within minutes of his first appearance on-stage, the entire audience (of all ages) has thoroughly warmed to his breezy, affable style – or maybe the uproar and hilarity is a reaction to his mischievous use of ever-larger water pistols.
There's something hugely panto-esque in wee boys who body swerve soap and water clamouring to be dowsed by their new pal, Buttons.
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Cinderella (Erica Birtles) meets her true love match in Gary Lamont, a relaxed and chatty Charming who can also sing: cue tuneful duets, but also a proper dialogue between them when they first meet. It's a nice touch that, like the gossipy Fairy Godmother and the well-defined Uglies – Chris Taylor goes for the hackit-grotesque look, Fraser Boyle affects a Mae West style of glam, and both mix malice with camp swank – lifts this production beyond routine cliche.
There's still room for tried and trusted bits of business, with Buttons and the Uglies dishing up a saucy 12 Days of Christmas and a gasp-inducing transformation scene that turns the pumpkin into a fairy-tale coach (with animatronic horse).
There's no Gangnam Style. It isn't missed. Because it's Gaiety Style, and it's good to see it back.