Tag Archives: Allan Stewart

Theatre Review: Jack and the Beanstalk, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

13 Dec

Jack and the Beanstalk

★★★★

As the year draws to a close, and I look back on the last few months of blog posts and realise I’ve spent far too little time at the theatre recently, it’s good to know that a bit of fun has been injected back into Edinburgh with the arrival of panto season.

Last week I went along to Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre to see the new Allan Stewart/Grant Stott production of Jack and the Beanstalk, this time with an added dash of Andy Gray, who returns to the city after three years in Glasgow panto.

Making a stunning entrance as Dame May McTrot, Stewart drops effortlessly back into the role of panto matriarch. It’s one he’s honed to perfection over the years, the actor a safe pair of hands in a production which tries to get bigger and flashier every year but which really just needs a bloke in a dress to work.

Andy Gray is also on fine form as King Crumble, sizing up to Stewart on more than one occasion as the pair try to outdo each other in the fluffed and forgotten lines stakes. It’s hard to know where the ad-libs and improvisation start and end, both of them falling in and out of character as they wait for their next line, but it all adds to the entertainment.

Grant Stott is also on good form as the evil Fleshcreep, doing the work of the evil giant (a semi-successful animatronic prop which dominates the stage for an over loud and overlong period of time), but it’s easy to lost track of quite why the giant is being so evil. There’s some fluff about unpaid taxes requiring the kidnap of Crumble’s daughter, Princes Apricot (Jo Freer), but none of it makes too much sense in all the rush.

Freer makes for a perky princess, most of her scenes taking place opposite romantic lead Andrew Scott-Ramsay, who does well with the pretty thankless role of Jack McTrot. Scott-Ramsay replaces Johnny Mac this year in the role of Stewart’s son, with the 2010 version a more serious portrayal. The part of the bumbling oaf is instead given to Gray, leaving Scott-Ramsay with the occasional one-liner.

References to reality TV and shiny floor shows abound, and if you don’t know your Wagner from your Gillian McKeith you’ll be slightly left in the cold. The appearance of Gray as one half of Stavros Flatley (Britain’s Got Talent) does redeem this situation somewhat, a sketch which proved to be one of the highlights of the evening.

Throw in a few song and dance routines and a bit of business with audience members, plus obligatory references to the Edinburgh trams, and this is a tremendous evening’s entertainment which won’t disappoint.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs until Sunday 23 January 2011. Visit the King’s Theatre website for more information.

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Theatre Review: Jolson & Co, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

4 Mar

Glitz, glamour and (a distinct lack of) greasepaint are the trademarks of the new touring production of Jolson & Co which opened at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre this week.

While today’s PC-obsessed society prevents star Allan Stewart portraying the historically accurate sight of Al Jolson “blacking up” (despite Jolson’s well documented opposition to racial discrimination), the show must go on, with Stewart giving a career-defining performance as the man dubbed “the world’s greatest entertainer”.

Opening on the stage of New York’s Winter Garden Theater late on in Jolson’s career, the show flashes back through the man’s life, throwing the spotlight quite literally on key moments in his personal history.

Documenting the death of Lithuanian-born Jolson’s mother, his struggle to rise up through the ranks of the performers that threatened to outshine him and giving insights into his love life and personal problems, the show is always fleet of foot and ready to liven up a sad moment with another song.

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Theatre Review: Aladdin, 5 December, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

7 Dec

Think your days of enjoying panto are behind you? Oh no they’re not!

Aladdin arrived at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre last week, a few months after a preview on this site stated that “the effects are impressive, the actors in fine form. Let’s hope they compliment each other well and inject some much needed energy into a tired art form.” So has the final product lived up to its early promise?

Opening with a glimpse into the dark world of Abanazer (Grant Stott) as he sets his plan in motion to rule the world, the show then moves into a lively number from High School Musical. Into this saccharine madness arrives Widow Twankey in the shapely form of Allan Stewart, a man for whom it would seem panto was invented.

From here the panto constantly threatens to turn into The Allan Stewart Show, which is admittedly no bad thing. With years of experience, Stewart is the perfect panto dame, his barrage of jokes and ability to keep proceedings on an even keel a thing of theatrical beauty.

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Theatre Preview: Aladdin 2008-2009, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

12 Jun

Being early June we’ve reached that time of year once again when Qdos Pantomimes inevitably gears itself up for Christmas, teasing and titillating the expectant mass with a preview of this year’s show Aladdin, running from 29 November – 18 January.

Following a balmy couple of days the clouds once again gathered last night, releasing a deluge on the crowd of group-booking grannies shuffling into Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre.

The jokes were old and the audience as keen to yell out ‘he’s behind you,’ as ever but this year King’s has a new toy in its armoury, contributing to ticket sales which are already well ahead of last year’s.

Returning to the stage for their tenth pantomime together local celebrities Allan Stewart and Grant Stott could be forgiven for feeling ever so slightly upstaged by the latest addition.

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