Fiona Duff: Trip to panto highlight of festive season

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So, last year I went to the panto for the first time in living memory. This week I have seen two, Beauty and the Beast in Aberdeen and Aladdin at the King’s Theatre in this fine city. While they were both cracking shows, don’t worry as I’ve not become a pantoholic, needing to travel 200 miles in order to get my fix of festive fun. Up in the Granite City, my friend Anne Smith was playing the Wicked Witch alongside Elaine C Smith, and also gave me an excuse to take my student son out for supper so he has at least had one decent meal this term.

Having been to the King’s last year, I now don’t ever want to miss their show again. The rib-tickling triumvirate of Andy Gray, Allan Stewart and Grant Stott may well be enjoyed by adults more than their offspring. My 13-year-old daughter thought it was great, but not sure she understood all the jokes or the ad libs that they fling about with such ease. At one point Allan’s leg fell off (go see, you’ll understand) and as he buckled with laughter trying to reclaim it from the floor, Andy quipped: “You could still get a trial for Hibs.”

Both theatres were packed, and for many children this will have been their first trip to such a building. Indeed, at the King’s as we waited for the show to start, the boy sitting behind me asked his mother if the lights stayed on during the show. I suppose in a few years’ time he might find himself watching Shakespeare and won’t make the mistake of asking the same question.

Also, pantoland is a great employer of actors who may find themselves not smearing on the greasepaint much during the rest of the year. The Wicked Witch, Anne, has a regular job which she can fall back on whenever the casting directors fail to call. It’s not a life that many of us would fancy, but I certainly like it from the other side of the stage.