THE 2019 Macrobert panto is just like the dame’s outfit, a quality treat. This year we travelled to Stirling Stella, to hear the hair-raising tale of Rapunzel.

Now you might think you know the story, but it turns out it’s a little different to what Grimm or Disney had us believe. There is still a frying pan and luscious locks of hair, but now we have a glitzy prince, a character named after a bag of sweets, and an evil mother who can do the splits.

The story starts as Dolly Mixture (Johnny McKnight) realises that the wicked witch Gothel (Helen McAlpine) was the one who stole her baby Rapunzel (Betty Valencia) many moons ago.

With the help of her son, Tenpee Mixture (Robert Jack), they set off into the kingdom, in order to bring their girl home.

Meanwhile, Rapunzel sits in her lonely tower, dreaming of a life outside the confined walls. But her vile jailer insists on keeping her prisoner, so she can brush her magical hair and stay young.

But all is not lost, as the dashing Prince Rocco (Keith McLeish) and his faithful assistant Goonifer (Katie Barnett) stumble upon her secret location and vow to rescue the heroine.

The rest of the story contains the usual fist-fight between good and evil, as the residents of Stirling Stella escape danger and seize the day.

I must admit, I haven’t been a massive fan of the Macrobert panto over the past two years. However, this one was certainly getting things back on track.

As always, the cast sparkled with charisma. All the characters were a hoot, with the new boy Keith McLeish radiating personality. Per usual, Helen McAlpine proved that nobody else could fill her sinister shoes as she busted a move, sang spooky songs, and made us all want to boo and hiss the night away.

As expected, Johnny McKnight’s writing and performance were top bill. It seems as if half the budget this year went on his many costume changes. I suppose we can say thank goodness for that, as we wouldn’t want our best girl looking like a frump, or in this case, a flump. He even propositioned my husband, poor man, so I was certainly full of laughs at his expense.

Yes, Rapunzel was an absolute blast and really got me in the Christmas spirit.

But still, it doesn’t really matter what I say, it’s what the audience thinks that counts. I am pleased to report, that looking around, it was true love.

All photographs by Macrobert Arts Centre / Mihaela Bodlovic