By Mark Brown


Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Four stars

Touring until February 2

This revival of Cinderella, choreographed by Scottish Ballet’s artistic director Christopher Hampson, is a delightful gift for the Season of Goodwill. Originally staged by the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007, it was first presented, to richly merited plaudits, by Scottish Ballet three years ago.

There is, in the show, a carefully calibrated combination of gracefulness, boldness and humour which takes its lead from Prokofiev’s beautiful score. Nowhere is that clearer than in designer Tracy Grant Lord’s extraordinary sets and costumes.

The enchanted rose garden, for instance, brings together a breathtaking gargantuanism (think a super-magnified floral painting by Georgia O'Keeffe) with the slightly unnerving sense of a mysterious forest. The royal ballroom is more akin to the set of a 1930s American musical movie than anything built for the House of Romanov.

The choreography is similarly creative. In this re-staging, the Stepsisters who persecute Cinderella are, rather than a matching, equally wicked pair, contrasted to fabulous comic effect.

Although clad in equally garish frocks, the duo embarrass themselves in quite different ways at the Prince’s party. Grace Horler’s tall sister is in hilariously desperate pursuit of the male aristocracy, her fingers extended like talons.

For her part, Kayla-Maree Tarantolo’s shorter sister is charmingly blundering, and more likely to end up on her graceless backside than on a royal throne. Both dancers prove that to be able to affect comically bad dancing this well, one must first be able to dance well.

Sophie Martin (who danced one of the Stepsisters three years ago) performs the title role with tremendous pathos, style and dynamism, opposite Barnaby Rook-Bishop’s beautifully measured dancing of the Prince. Marge Hendrick (a memorably vile Stepmother), Araminta Wraith (a perfectly ethereal Fairy Godmother) and Christopher Harrison (a palpably disconsolate, drunken Father) all impress in what is a marvellously complete ballet.

Now installed at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, following a Christmas run in Edinburgh, this charming production will tour to Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle.

For tour dates, visit:


King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Four Stars

Ends today

Unlike at many other Scottish theatres, where the traditionally unconvincing bloke-in-a-dress that is the dame tops the bill, Glasgow’s big stage pantos bring women to the fore. At the SEC Armadillo the indisputable star of the show was the irrepressible Janette Tough (aka Wee Jimmy Krankie), and at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre the revels are led by the city’s own Elaine C Smith.

Playing the larger-than-life laundry owner Widow Twankey, the Rab C Nesbitt and Two Doors Down star welcomes the audience (her “chinas”, geddit?) to Old Peking and a Weegie-inflected script written by Mr Panto himself Alan McHugh (author of innumerable pantomimes, as well as the ever-brilliant dame at HMT in Aberdeen).

Smith’s Twankey is as amiable and sure-footed as ever as she tries to keep a grip on Johnny Mac in the role of the steamie proprietress’s silly son Wishee Washee. The memory of the late, great Gerard Kelly still hangs heavy over the King’s panto, but the mercurial Mac has done an impressive job of making the role of pantomime dafty his own.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the scene in which he and Smith perform a very funny tongue twister about a three-legged “wonky donkey” (even if it bears an enjoyably remarkable resemblance to a skit McHugh penned for this season’s show in Aberdeen). The excellent Smith and Mac enjoy top class support from George Drennan as a wonderfully malevolent Abanazar and Paul-James Corrigan as an Imperial Palace Guard who seems to have been headhunted from his previous job as a bouncer in Coatbridge.

Frances Maylee McCann is, delightfully, game for a laugh in the “straight” role of Princess Jasmine, alongside Lisa Lynch’s sparkling Scheherazade (slave of the ring) and sparkle-toothed Lee Dillon-Stuart (Aladdin). A weak Riverdance skit notwithstanding, this is another crowd-pleasing King’s pantomime.