Perth Theatre’s panto – like Dame Barrie Hunter’s trumpet joke – isn’t broken and certainly isn’t in need of fixing.
With an established team in place, and Hunter on writing and direction duties as well, it hits every single note you’d want to hear from a traditional local panto being performed in 2023.
Hunter’s Margarita McTwankie (“go on, just a wee one,” she insists, whenever anyone calls her name) is loud and matronly, like a character straight out of the music hall.
Around her, a lively young cast circle, including her sons and partners in the village of Vrancknock’s only laundry business, Aladdin (Tiger Mitchell) and Hank E (Ewan Somers).
Hank wants to be a country and western singer, but Aladdin likes nothing more than potholing in caves – which brings him to the attention of villainous landowner and resident of the ‘Big Hoose’, Abi McKrankie, the Countess of Killiekrankie (Helen Logan, an excellent, enthusiastic baddie), who is on the hunt for a mythical cave filled with priceless treasures.
It’s no spoiler to say there’s a lamp in there too, and its resident Jeannie McSwankie (Kirsty Malone) soon gets busy granting wishes.
Yet what can be magicked out of thin air goes against whatever message the piece has – which is to work hard to achieve things for yourself, as Hank and newcomer Heather (Rachel Flynn) do when they rebuilt his late father’s old bandstand.
Every year of Perth’s panto is a great one these days, with Hunter balancing an energetic cast, a barrage of jokes and silliness which suits ages four to 84 while patronising no-one, and musical director Alan Penman and choreographer Chris Stuart Wilson’s song and dance routines to everyone from Chic to Taylor Swift.
Becky Minto’s set and costume designs look great too, switching easily between a light town square and a dark forest, and giving characters’ looks smart little flourishes, like the washing machine doors on the McTwankie clan’s tops.
Oh, and there’s also a four-piece community cast dressed as dancing red squirrels. Truly a panto with everything.
Aladdin is at Perth Theatre until December 31.