JOYCE MCMILLAN on CINDERELLA at the SECC, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 20.12.14. _________________________________________________________
3 stars ***
IT’S BIG, IT’S BRASH, and sometimes it’s just very, very naughty; it’s also well within the great Glasgow panto tradition, and likely to be the last Christmas show for a while featuring both John Barrowman and The Krankies, as Barrowman takes a panto break. So Glasgow might as well relish this year’s spectacular Cinderella at the SECC, which comes complete with an animatronic flying horse to pull Cinderella’s pumpkin coach to the ball, and gorgeous Scottish X-Factor star Melanie Masson, making her Glasgow panto debut as Cinders’s Fairy Godmother.
With all three of the panto’s biggest stars concentrated in the comic subplot, the romantic story struggles to make itself heard in this version of Cinderella; Barrowman plays Buttons (with the audience needing barely any assistance in turning his unrequited love for Cinderella into a camp joke), Jeanette Krankie is in particularly sharp form as Buttons’s wee brother Zip (Zip or Buttons, geddit?) while Ian Krankie plays Baron Hardup, and Graham Hoadly and Wayne Fitzsimmons, as two memorably hideous Ugly Sisters, struggle to make much impression on a stage so crowded with comedy. It all comes right in the end, though; and if the sound quality is occasionally rough, Barrowman sings as well as ever, and the company produce the best closing chorus of Happy on my panto trail so far – which is quite an achievement, given the appearance nearly everywhere, across Scottish pantoland this year, of the Pharrell Williams’s song that has become the iconic panto hit of 2014.