Big Christmas show producer Crossroads Pantomimes (the people behind the festive production at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen and many more) must have an understanding insurer. This year’s show in Granite City engages champion dancer (and Strictly Come Dancing star) Brendan Cole’s highly prized legs in high-octane pantomime shenanigans.
This is in addition to Peter slapping Michael Karl-Lewis’ thighs flying above the HMT stage on barely visible wires. And surely there must be an extra clause in the insurance contract for the jaw-dropping (and utterly hilarious) moment Aberdeen’s über-lady Alan McHugh is snatched through the air, wig flying, as he attaches to a rising stage curtain (accidentally on purpose, you know).
Such organized chaos is par for the course at HMT, where the Christmas show is written and directed by its leading, uh, “lady” McHugh. Few know pantomime as well as the Glasgow writer and actor. Not only has McHugh been the Lady of Aberdeen for about 19 years, but he also writes an extraordinary number of panto scripts every year (more than 20 this year, including 17 for Crossroads). This year, he penned a top-notch screenplay for the guest star of Strictly.
The New Zealander proves to be much more than a fabulous dancer, playing panto villain Captain Hook with delightful enthusiasm and tremendous good humor. When he uses his famously armed prosthetic hand to chop off poor Tinker Bell’s wings, he does so with such malevolent delight it’s feared the boos from the children in the audience will bring down the performance hall ceiling.
There’s a lot of fun to be had throughout the show regarding both Cole’s profession and his nationality. From start to finish, McHugh’s character Dame Maggie Celeste and her silly son Smee (the excellent Paul J Corrigan) confuse Cole with fellow TV dancer Anton Du Beke and an Aussie (both lead to Cole’s Hook becoming more and more, and always more with humor, furious).
As always with a panto McHugh, the show is chock-full of hilarious silliness, including (in honor of Mr. Cole) a dance that is by turns impressive and very funny. Add to that superb local actor (and, it seems, lovely singer) Danielle Jam’s Tinkerbell (who speaks in the local Doric dialect), Beth Nicholson’s lovely Wendy Darling and a really pretty scary mechanical crocodile, and you have a pantomime to high-flying success.
Until January 8. Tickets: 01224 641 122; aberdeenperformingarts.com