'TIS the season of evil stepsisters and pretty princesses, of magic lamps and, er, disco-dancing swans.
It is pantomime time and Glasgow and other west of Scotland venues are bursting at their sparkly seams with fantastic family shows. Our reviewers have been out and about in the city and beyond to round up the best.
Ann Fotheringham rounds up their reviews -
The Wizard of Never Woz, Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow
Reviewed by the Donald family from Glasgow – Claire, 11, Thomas, 15 and mum and dad Mami and Colin.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Dorothy (Shebahn Littlejohn) and companions Leo The Lion (Dean Park), Strawsuit Bob (Stephen Purdon) and Tinny (Johnny Mac) set off down the Yellow Brick Road, helped by good witch Glinda (Michelle McManus) and hindered by her wicked counterpart (Joyce Falconer).
Claire: "I really enjoyed the effects, like the snow and the flashing lights. The characters were very funny, especially the Tin Man with his catchphrase "I'm enjoying myself". Thomas: "How many 15-year-olds do you see in the audience? It's not really for us, and I didn't find the jokes very funny."
You're in safe hands with this old-school panto with a strong cast that does not stint on thrills and spectacle. The sets and costumes are worthy of the great Pavilion tradition, and the front of house operation is in the same family-friendly spirit.
Claire thought the cowardly lion was funny, but everyone roared when a lady shouted out, "I love you Bob" to Strawsuit Bob because they knew him from River City.
Not many scary bits – even the witch was not that scary – but the magic tricks and special effects were exciting.
The dance routines choreographed by Lynsey Brown were great, with added acrobatics from the kids, especially the Gangnam Style routine 'Munchkin Style'. The whole cast was excellent, with no weak links. Seasoned panto pros plus talented newcomers and song-belter Michelle McManus all worked well together. Pavilion favourite Dean Park has the patter and presence of a Glasgow comedy great.
Aganeza Scrooge, Tron Theatre
Reviewed by the McConnell family from Netherlee – mum and dad Ian and Karen and sons Matthew, 11, Michael, 9, and Luke, 3.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT:
It's based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens but the characters, although not the cast, are all female. Writer and director Johnny McKnight steals the show with a powerful portrayal as Aganeza Scrooge. He is joined by a strong cast in Darren Brownlie, Michele Gallagher, Helen McAlpine, Sally Reid, and Anita Vettesse who, between them, play a host of characters. Oh, and it is set in and around the Tron. And there's a good impersonation of Jimmy Krankie as the Ghost Of Panto Present. It's all hilarious.
Matthew: "I thought it was funny and well done – the way it was modern and the way she (Aganeza) was going on about Sauchiehall Street and stuff. I would go and see it again."
Michael: "It was good, funny, silly at some points."
Luke: "It was a bit scary. I liked the magic man (a talking projection of Scrooge's former love)."
Aganeza's tale of how late business partner Marley "choked on a family-size KFC" and "literally kicked the bucket" was one of many very funny moments.
When Aganeza is shown her future grave, with a skeleton, skull and smoke effects, by the Ghost Of Panto Yet To Come.
Audience interaction was wild – highlights included complimenting one woman on a "£2" jumper; a running gag all night with one man who had white hair and a beard; and a woman pulled up for bringing in her own snacks, but also congratulated for her penny-pinching.
Aladdin, Motherwell Theatre
Reviewed by the Naysmith family from Clarkston – Jamie, 8, Kester, 4, and dad Stephen.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In Old Peking, Abanazer has a plot to get his hands on a powerful treasure – a magic lamp hidden in a creepy cave. But, according to prophecy, only Aladdin, son of a poverty-stricken washer woman, can retrieve it. Can plucky Aladdin thwart Abanazer's evil plan and fulfil his dream of marrying Princess Jasmine?
Jamie: "Every time Wishy Washy came on, all the audience had to stand up and sing Gangnam Style – that was really funny."
Jamie and Kester could not stop laughing when the baddie hypnotised everyone and they could not move – and Wishy Washy was doing things like playing a tune on Widow Twankey's boobs, and making the emperor's face go into an ice cream.
Kester didn't like the bit when Aladdin was frightened in the cave.
Lots of cheers when Aladdin got back in charge of the genie. The dance routines from the five-strong Lisa Jayn Dancers were fantastic throughout the show and really made this more than just panto-by-numbers. The less said about Jamie Bannerman's accent as the Emperor Of China, the better. But Oliver Patterson was a great villain and Mark Hudson as Twankey and Ian 'Sheepie' Smith as Wishy Washy kept the younger audience members laughing. Storm Skyler McClure and Martin Clark make an agreeable central couple.
The Ugly Duckling, Arches
Reviewed by the Wallace family from East Kilbride – Archie, 9, Harry, 4, and mum and dad Ann and Fraser.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT:
Hans Christian Andersen's tale about the ugly duckling who becomes a swan gets a contemporary twist and a dollop of disco in this lovely show for younger children. It is a co-production with acclaimed Scots theatre company Catherine Wheels and stars a multi-tasking cast in Gill Robertson, Laurie Brown and Veronica Leer.
Harry: "It was funny and the music was good."
Archie: "The dancing was very funny and I liked the farmyard animals."
The super-posh foxes, Charles and Minty, were hilarious as they tried to trick the ugly duckling into becoming their dinner.
It's not scary, but Harry did not much like it when the ugly duckling got lost in the night.
The feel-good, glitter-ball, disco-fuelled ending is great. the whole panto is only 55 minutes and that's great for younger children. But the numerous, whirling scenery changes were a bit irritating, and for mum and dad, it did not quite recapture the magic and joy of last year's wonderful Rudolf.