THERE is nothing like a Dame, nothing in the world...”
Okay, when the sailors of South Pacific belted out that musical favourite, chances are they weren’t picturing a panto dame.
However, at this time of year there is no escaping the age-old theatrical tradition, which finds actors donning frocks to play maternal characters with names like Widow Twankey, Mother Goose and Sarah the Cook.
In the Capital, of course, there is only one Dame, Auntie May, played by the King’s Theatre panto stalwart, Allan Stewart. This year, as it’s Aladdin, he is Widow May Twankey.
Aladdin is the timeless tale of how the magical genie of the lamp saves small town boy Aladdin from the evil wizard Abanazar.
First dramatised for the stage in 1788, Aladdin has been one of the most popular pantos for more than 200 years.
Stewart stars alongside panto legend Andy Gray and Forth One’s Grant Stott in the production, which holds its press night tomorrow.
To mark the occasion the Evening News has an exclusive ‘First Look’ at this year’s spectacular as well as the chance for you to discover your very own Dame Name - just follow the instructions on the pink panel - after all, even the King’s Theatre has one, fondly known to generations as The Old Lady of Leven Street.
Stewart says, “I came up with the character of a 65-year-old lady called Auntie May when I was doing the Allan Stewart TV show in the 1970s.
“Back then I thought 65 was old – unfortunately now I’ve caught up on Auntie May! So when I got the call to be a dame, Auntie May was ready made, and I knew that when I was asked to play the dame, that would be it – I would never be anything else other than the dame in panto again, and that’s exactly what happened.
“As soon as you’re a dame, you can get away with saying the most outrageous things. It’s a bit like being the ventriloquist’s dummy!”
Aladdin, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, until 18 January, various times, £14-£30, 0131-529 6000