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REVIEW: Cinderella, Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24

Updated: May 9

9 December 2023 (18:30 performance)

The Gaiety Theatre, Ayr

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Directed by Ken Alexander and Co-written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle.


 

Cinderella at Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24. Written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle. Photo credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

Now, THIS is how you do panto!

Oh yes it is!


The 120-year-old Gaiety Theatre in Ayr is a place very close to my heart. It was my childhood theatre, and it has lost none of its charm nor appeal in the intervening years.


Now owned and run by the Ayr Gaiety Partnership (AGP) - a group of passionate local residents - The Gaiety is unlike most theatres in the UK. Sustained largely through volunteers from the local community, and a registered Scottish Charity, it is nonetheless one of the best run and welcoming theatres that you can visit.


Steeped with history and heritage, The Gaiety has been host to many famous performers over the years, with the annual Gaiety Whirl and Christmas pantomimes firm highlights of the Scottish theatre calendar. For the past five years, responsibility for the Gaiety panto has fallen to the acclaimed writing team of Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle. And it's clearly in very safe hands.


Cinderella at Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24. Written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle. Photo credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

Taking the most famous pantomime story of all, Cinderella, Alexander and Boyle have created a traditional fairytale panto that's also modern and fresh. I love that Cinderella herself has not been sidelined here: her story is the focus around which the rest of the show and characters pivot. As it should be.


The pacing is perfect; the much-loved story points are all there - the wicked stepmother, the adorable best friend Buttons, the dashing prince and the sparkling glass slipper - but they are combined with original comedy routines, contemporary music and a sprinkle of panto magic. Every scene, no matter how madcap, is somehow related to the story. Everything fits, and is there for a reason. This panto is the perfect mix of story and variety, with something to suit every age and every taste.


The writing is exquisite, and praise be! the jokes are original and funny. Too often we hear the same jokes repeated year after year in pantomimes up and down the country; but not so here. Alexander and Boyle's script is packed full of unique, clever, up-to-date jokes that land with adults and kids alike.


The script is excellent but there is also plenty of room for ad-lib, with much of the spontaneous comedy and chaos stemming from the 'ugly' McClatchy sisters (Fraser Boyle and Ali Cleland). Boyle and Cleland are masters of the art of the scathing, offhand comment. These ugly sisters are loud and bold without being vulgar; and both performers have phenomenal stage presence, hilarious facial expressions and deadly coming timing. Panto dame perfection.


Cinderella at Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24. Written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle. Photo credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

The whole cast here are outstanding, and none more so than Hannah Howie. From the second Howie's Fairy Godmother sang her first note, I was enthralled. What a voice! What a performer! Hannah is the perfect ethereal Fairy Godmother: kind and noble, a force for good. My astonishment at her beautiful, clear voice didn't fade as the show progressed either... Hannah managed to take my breath away with every song, every scene. An outstanding artist who oozes star quality.


The sets sparkle from the minute the audience enters the auditorium, and no opportunity has been missed to add glitter and glitz to the stage. Every backdrop, every prop has been adorned. Even the cardboard placards used in a protest scene have been framed with glitter. It's this kind of attention to detail that I really appreciate from a panto, and something rarely seen at any other time of year. It's Christmas! It's the season to add glitter to everything! Please don't hold back. Cinderella's carriage is also suitably stunning, and everything is perfectly lit to allow for maximum impact and wonder. For being a medium-budget pantomime, the Gaiety really make sure to squeeze every ounce of wonder out of every corner of the stage. Bravo.


Cinderella at Ayr Gaiety is the complete package. A breath of festive fresh AYR (sorry) and a delight from beginning to end. Running from now until 7th January 2024, there's no need to travel further afield for your Christmas theatre fix, Ayr Gaiety's Cinderella can make all of your panto dreams come true.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Scroll to the end for more 2023 panto reviews!


Want to hear what my eleven year old nephew had to say about this panto? Click here!


Cinderella at Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24. Written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle. Photo credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

 

More info and tickets

 

Cinderella 

A Magical Family Pantomime 

1st Dec 2023 – 7th Jan 2024 

Various times 

Gaiety Main Auditorium 

Written by Fraser Boyle and Ken Alexander. 

Phone: 01292 288235 

Box Office: The Gaiety, Carrick Street, Ayr 


⚠️ Relaxed, Captioned, BSL and Audio Described Performances available. 

 

📸 Production photos: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan 


Cinderella at Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24. Written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle. Photo credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

 

🌟REVIEW: Cinderella, Ayr Gaiety Theatre pantomime 2023/24. Written by Ken Alexander and Fraser Boyle🌟


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received complimentary tickets in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.


📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

💗 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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