JOYCE MCMILLAN on CINDERELLA at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, for The Scotsman 17.12.13.
4 stars ****
OH YES IT IS; once again, it’s the best, warmest, funniest and glitziest family panto in Scotland, set in the prettiest traditional theatre in the land. There are other shows which have outrageous Dames, fine songs, jolly troupes of dancing children, excellent local jokes, a nasty villain, a sympathetic Buttons-figure, and a gorgeous transformation scene; but Cinderella at His Majesty’s, Aberdeen is the show that has them all, plus a genuine nine-carat star in Elaine C. Smith, playing Fariy Mary, Cinderella’s slightly disorganised but altogether sparkling fairy godmother.
Based on the same script as this year’s Perth panto, Alan McHugh’s Cinderella follows the familiar story at every point, except for a strange final twist where the wicked stepmother – a glamorous Barbara Rafferty, in Aberdeen – smashes the lost glass slipper before Cinders can even try it on. Produced by Qdos of Scarborough and directed by Lawrie McNicol, this Cinderella boasts lovely sparkling sets, and loses nothing from the lack, this year, of an extravagant 3-d sequence. Jordan Young is now perhaps the best Buttons-figure in Scotland, effortlessly bonding with the audience, and McHugh and his sidekick Ian Stuart Robertson are in fine form as twin “monster” ugly sisters, Nessie and Morag.
The defining characteristic of this show, though, is its strong sense of place, as a panto for the north-east; the script spins the place-name jokes with relentless energy, and Fairy Mary – dressed up as Gladys Knight – delivers a brand-new take on her great spoof torch-song, The Midnight Train To Huntly. It’s all classic family fun, in other words, with an elegant five-piece band in the pit; and a fine demonstration that if you stick to the story, remember to stuff it with good jokes, and employ some A-list showbiz talent in the leading roles, then it’s hard to go wrong with a big traditional panto, even in 2013.