STAR quality: it’s not something the Scottish panto scene is overly concerned about, although it has its share of well-known performers.
Jack and The Beanstalk
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So it comes as a bit of a shock to encounter a panto as thoroughly ablaze with that elusive quality as this big, no-holds-barred Qdos show at the SECC; not only because of the ever more confident and charismatic stage presence of its leading man, John Barrowman, but because of the perennial comic cheek of the Krankies, Ian and Jeanette, great survivors of the variety tradition, still stomping the panto stage with the best of them.
What’s more, there’s an added twist to this year’s drama, in that the last time the Krankies ascended a Glasgow beanstalk – at the Pavilion, some years ago – they suffered a serious fall; cue Barrowman as Jack, and Jeanette as his wee brother Jimmy, climbing the Beanstalk on wires that enable wee Jimmy to fall off perilously into space, to the sound of many jokes about past mishaps.
Add to all this some fantastic song and dance numbers, plus an exceptionally feisty and appealing Princess Apricot in Lisa-Anne Wood, and some long but extremely effective 3-D sequences that make Jack’s adventures in Cloudland seem more like a film than a live show, and you have a big 21st century panto that hardly ever misses a trick. Some much-loved detail of the panto tradition is lost in transit, and some of the jokes are a little on the raunchy side. With the Krankies around, though, audiences would expect nothing less; and it’s a measure of this big, accomplished company’s spirit and professionalism that when a backdrop stuck firmly half way up, blocking our view of the final wedding scene, they all just dived underneath it and sprang up in perfect order to take their bows, and share a laugh with their increasingly enthusiastic and adoring Glasgow audience.