Don’t be caught napping, watch Sleeping Beauty​​​​​​​ - Karen Koren

This year’s Christmas pantomime at the King’s Theatre opened last week. I went to the opening night – it was terrific to be back in the lovely old Theatre.

Clare Gray as Narcissa in Sleeping Beauty at the King's Theatre
Clare Gray as Narcissa in Sleeping Beauty at the King's Theatre

It’s the last year the pantomime will be at the Kings before it closes for the long awaited refurbishment.

The revamp was to start in September 2021 and to finish by 2023. However, the pandemic prevented that from happening.

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We assume, therefore, that it will not be finished and re-opened until 2024 now. A shame – but it means that the panto will be on at the Festival Theatre for the next couple years.

I have to say that this year’s panto Sleeping Beauty is absolutely fantastic – the best for years, written by Alan McHugh.

The only missing piece is, of course, the Panto King himself, Andy Gray who sadly died from Covid in January of this year.

He is irreplaceable, a comic genius and was the principle of the panto in Edinburgh for over 20 years.

There is no doubt that you can’t help thinking about him as you watch Grant Stott as the wicked Carabosse, legendary panto dame Allan Stewart playing Queen May and River City star Jordan Young as Muddles the Jester prancing about the stage in their panto-esque style.

Andy’s daughter Clare Gray plays Princess Narcissa and you can only imagine how she feels following in her father’s footsteps. She is a real trouper

But it is the writing of this year’s panto that is the highlight, no random acrobats or puppets this year – just good old panto jokes – that’s what works and makes us laugh and shout out with glee!

Grant Stott has mastered the villain of the piece and does so with gusto and style and Allan Stewart in the flying scooter over the audience.

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There is a very fitting tribute to Andy towards the end which brings tears to your eyes. He will never be forgotten, nor should he.

His “No very well” patter resounds around the walls of the King’s Theatre. I can see him now chatting up members of the audience – he was so loved.

The cast are a fitting tribute to Andy and to the tradition of Scottish pantomime at it’s best, it will never die! Go and see it, you won’t be disappointed.