IT WAS a fine thing to be at the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr last Friday night, for the gala reopening of one of Scotland’s most beautiful small theatres – like a miniature Edinburgh King’s, but with even more warmth and jollity.
Gaiety Theatre, AYR
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It’s three years since the theatre was closed down, in a round of local spending cuts, but now the Ayr Gaiety Partnership, powered by enthusiasts and volunteers, has succeeded in bringing the lights back on again, to the evident joy of the packed local audience who assembled for the opening night of the 2012 Gaiety panto.
On stage, writer/director Michael Courtney has assembled a cheerful, good-looking small-scale panto, with a cast of eight – led by himself as Buttons – and a team of young local dancers.
The show has a few bumpy moments, with an odd narrative slump in the middle of its 90-minute first half, and River City’s Gary Lamont, as Prince Charming, struggles to stay in character, after a strong start and some sweet singing.
In the end, though, the show marshals enough key panto ingredients to deliver a joyful night out, including plenty of jokes about local eateries and nightspots, and a couple of memorably hideous ugly sisters in Fraser Boyle and Chris Taylor. And above all, there’s Leah McCrae’s luscious Glaswegian Fairy Godmother, beaming gloriously as she guides young Cinderella towards her destiny; and singing up a storm at the centre of a good-natured show that is never pretentious, but has enough energy, style and small-scale elegance to give this great little theatre the welcome back it deserves.