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Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel - What a Sweet Treat

10/01/2014 14:27 GMT | Updated 12/03/2014 09:59 GMT

Cultural pygmy that I am, I must admit that when I read that the music for Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel was composed by Engelbert Humperdinck, I was absolutely flabbergasted.

Who would have thought that the 77-year-old crooner could be so astonishingly versatile? He has a huge hit under his belt with Release Me, he has a shot at the Eurovision Song Contest - and now the plucky old geezer is having a stab at classical ballet. What a guy! He'd knock that Paul McCartney into a cocked hat.

And then as I listened to the first strains of Hansel and Gretel's Overture, and as I heard what really did sound like classical music, my jaw just about hit the floor.

This was Engelbert Humperdinck? Just unbelievable! Well if he can knock this sort of stuff out when he's a pensioner, then there has to be hope for all of us.

What the hell do I know?

If my classical education had been developed just that little bit further, I might have known that the original Engelbert Humperdinck was in fact a German composer (1854-1921), and that a young British singer called Arnold Dorsey decided he might have more luck if he had a name change... Doh!

Anyway - Hansel and Gretel is the latest gig from Scottish Ballet, and it is just wonderful. Charming. What a treat.

There has been some slight monkeying with the original Grimm fairytale, so instead of a wicked step-mother, we now have a beautiful school mistress who lures her entire class away with sweeties.

Only two children fail to fall for her charms, Hansel and Gretel, who are stuck at home while their parents are at work. The two stars - Andrew Peasgood as Hansel, and Bethany Kingsley-Garner as Gretel - were, of course dressed up as a couple of kids, and my wife Margot was insisting that they were in fact two teenagers with just this incredible talent for dancing. I can happily report that they're both aged about 25... Though I'll bet they both get ID'd quite a bit when they go to the pub and ask for a pint of Stella. (If that's what ballet stars drink.)

The show bowls along with fantastic pace, though I did find that the most improbable thoughts kept popping up into my head.

For instance: Hansel and Gretel's mother (Eve Mutso) with her Sixties hair and a fag hanging out of her mouth. A complete dead-ringer for Bet Lynch from Coronation Street.

More bizarre still was when Hansel and Gretel were stuck in the witch's candy-cane house, and these two puppets flop out of the toy-cupboard. I instantly twigged artistic director Chris Hampson's inspiration for the scene: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

In this classic movie, Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes both have a turn as a couple of puppets.

Ahhh... Sally Ann Howes. We have a lot of history together.

Even as a young child, I remember being quite captivated by her beauty. And forty years later, after watching the film again with my own boys, I can now faithfully report that Sally Ann Howes is SMOKING.

But here's what I was mulling over. This is the big question.

Is Sally Ann Howes the most smoking hot star of any kids' film in history?

The only woman who even comes close is Jenny Agutter from The Railway Children. And as for dear old Julie Andrews... for some reason she will for ever remain curiously asexual.

If there is a more gorgeous kids' film star than Sally Ann, then I would so love to hear about her. (Cameron Diaz in The Mask? Not a proper kids' film.)

While I was pondering these great matters of moment, Margot was of course worrying about the young school-children who were back on stage at 9.20pm for the romping finale. "It's way past their bed-time!" she squawked. "How ever did they find the time to do their homework?"

Me? I was wondering about Hansel and Gretel's food-fight, as they hurled Ambrosia at each other. The rice pudding was left lying on the stage, and I was idling musing to myself what would have happened if one of the stars slipped in the stuff and pulled a tendon - what a cataclysmic way to be put out of such a great show!

Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel runs in the UK till February 8