THE SINGING KETTLE Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sun 20-Sat 27 Dec; Macrobert, Stirling, Tue 30/Wed 31 Dec 0000

The pitch: Cilla. Artie. Gary and Kevin do their bit for the environment by recycling Christmas songs and costumes from previous shows. and delivering them to the next generation of Kettle fans. The usual 'lost kettles' plot will be employed and special guest star. Santa. will once again make an appearance.

The verdict: As ever, it's a roaring success. The Kettler‘s Merry Christmas Show may not deviate wildly from their other offerings. but so what? The kids love it. joining in the action songs. laughing at the slapstick jokes and silly costumes and getting giddy on all that festive cheer while the merchandise stall in the foyer sends them into virtual apoplexy. Singing Kettle enterprises may be big business these days. but it still gives its all, conjuring up Christmas spirit in the most cynical of parental hearts. (Kelly Apter)

ALADDIN Paisley Arts Centre, until Wed 31 Dec 000

The pitch: Masculine Ma Widow Twanky (David Wallace) and goofy brother Wishee Washee (Alan Orr) run the family laundry while Our eponymous young hero (Alan McPartlan) falls for the independent- minded princess (Laura Thomson) of his dreams. The evil Abanazar (Rod Young) goes down the (alleged) Michael Jackson route and gets Aladdin for his own villainous purposes. But will some magical helpers save the day? Of COurse they will.

The verdict: The energetic chorus from Pace Youth Theatre hold their own. giving the young audience members a run for their money in the ‘who can belt it out louder' stakes. The underlying subtext of a community dissatisfied with their governing class is here relayed thr0ugh a jolly, musical romp all in the spirit of panto. with great ad-libbing from Wallace and Or. David Sneddon's glaringly bright set and an ingenious genie give this semi- amateur piece a nice edge; take some sunglasses and you'll be rocking along with the rest of them.

(Meg Watson)

CINDERELLA Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sat 3 Jan I...

The pitch: We'll act as thOugh we're Streetwise with a smart-arse Fame Academy reworking of the old rags- to-riches tale. but deep down we'll be as true to the happy-ever-after spirit of panto as the most traditional of shows. And we'll do it with six actors. The verdict: It's a hoot. Forbes Masson has returned to the show he wrote in 1992 and realised that the idea of a nerdy no-mark in an anorak being turned into a national sex

symbol makes a lot more sense in today's Pop Ido/ era when such transformations happen all the time. So Buttons becomes heart-throb Troon Colquhoon and we almost

wonder why he needed magic to do it.

Gordon Dougall's six actors are fantastic as they blend in and out of a televisual world where Reporting Panto/and is shown on Tartania TV. Good songs. good gags and an unfOrced topicality that Suits the old Cindere/la story like a glass slipper. (Mark Fisher)


Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sat 27 Dec. 00.

The pitch: Let '3 go back to the Grimm original, in all its dark and unsanitised beauty. throw in a dollop of languorous Citz decadence and keep the kids happy with a few Liberty X hits.

The verdict: All the elements in Kenny Miller's show are fascrnating. but put together they make a bit of a mess. Robert David MacDonald's script has the weight of a grown-up myth. but is triVialised by the panto format. Meanwhile. the panto format looks incongruous against the arty posturing of Miller's staging.

In short. no one's happy: not the yOungsters expecting seven dwarfs and finding only Anne Myatt and two ScoLisers (no. me neither). nor the serious lovers of storytelling Christmas shows looking for psychological depth. Lots of it is well done. of COurse. and the evening skips by. but it's more intriguing for its bizarre juxtapositions than satisfying for any one of its disparate elements.

(Mark Fisher)

Cinderella at the Tron


King’s Theatre, Glasgow, until 18 Jan 000

The Pitch You know the story. Girl meets boy; girl is put to sleep for 100 years: boy wakes girl With a kiss: but not before a bunch of West End stage musical types have high-kicked and crooned their way through popular chart hits. But hang on! This is the Glasgow King's. so where's the Shetland pony? Perhaps Equity has started demanding union rates for the folk who clear up pony manure. for there is no sign of a hapless animal pulling a tinsel-strewn carriage this year.

The Verdict Never mind. who needs

Christmas shows Theatre

such cuteness when you have national japester Gerard Kelly iChester the Jester) and the karaoke queen herself, Elaine C Smith (good fairy Nanny Begood)? Some say Elaine C is a national treasure. others argue that she should certainly be locked away in the public interest. I couldn't possibly comment. The show itself holds assiduously to the music hall panto formula. We are all familiar With the tale. so who gives a stuff if the show is packed full of tired references to popular culture. such as Elaine C playing Anne Robinson in an uninspired skit entitled the Weakest Prince? Everything you want from a Christmas show. and a little bit less. (Mark Brown)

Jack and the Beanstalk at the King’s, Edinburgh


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