FTH Panto Set To Fly High Again This Christmas

FTH Theatre, Falkirk are delighted to announce that some familiar faces will be joining television star Libby McArthur and singer Barbara Bryceland in Aladdin this festive season.

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The brilliant Craig Glover will be returning to play larger than life dame Widow Twankey, with Scott Watson as her hilarious son Wishee Washee and Derek McGhie as the wicked Abanazar.  Joining them are Emily Cochrane as Princess Jasmine and Henry Sanders as the Genie.

The production will once again be directed by Stuart Bird who says: “I am delighted to see many of our fantastic cast back at Falkirk again this Christmas!  Last year’s first Imagine panto in Falkirk was a great success and the cast and company were just lovely to work with! 

“From Aladdin this year audiences can expect plenty of local humour, coupled with great songs and spectacular special effects, costumes and set. Will the magic carpet fly? No spoilers...book your tickets and find out!”

Scott Watson played Dandini in last year’s production and is delighted to be taking on the role of the comical Wishee Washee this season.   

“Stepping into the comic role is something I’ve always wanted to do. Since I was wee boy going to the pantos in Glasgow and sitting in the audience and seeing the joy the comic character brought to everyone’s face was something I could only dream about doing myself. It was Gerard Kelly at the time when I was wee, and he is a Scottish panto legend so if I can bring as much joy and happiness as he did then it’s job well done.” 

Craig Glover played one of the Ugly Sisters in last year’s show and is delighted to be playing Dame once more. “As the dame, you have a license to do and say things that other characters can't. It can make for an exciting job, especially because no two audiences are the same.”

 “Last year we were so lucky to have excellent audiences for Cinderella. Nothing beats a lively audience who are up for a laugh. You can sense it the second you step onto stage and you know they are with you every step of the way. It’s a remarkable thing, especially in this current era of constant mental stimulation with social media, VR and CGI that a good solid panto can keep an audience of all ages gripped for the entire journey. The beauty of FTH Theatre is that from the stage you can see every single audience member and feel like you could literally reach out and shake their hand. You know you’re doing a good job when you look out to see someone removing their glasses to wipe the tears from their eyes because they’ve been laughing so much.”

“I am delighted to be reunited with some cast members from last year. My ’sister’ Derek returns this year as the baddie - we got to share a dressing room so we had plenty of laughs and fun times, which I know will continue this year. Derek is an incredible panto baddie, so I know the folks of Falkirk are in for a treat. I’m over the moon to have Scott Watson as my daft son, Wishee Washee. Scott and I have known each other for a long time and finally got to work together last year. Having a strong comic-dame partnership is essential for a good panto and I know that Scott and I will be able to transfer our friendship to the stage. I’m also buzzing to get to work with my pal Babs, who returns this year after her panto debut as the Fairy Godmother last year. We have ‘gigged’ together in the past as ’turns’ so it’s a delight to work with her in a full scale production. She is a sensational singer and the audiences absolutely love her. Finally, I’m most looking forward to working with the team at FTH - they’re like a big family. A sensational stage crew and friendly front of house staff. Falkirk is lucky to have a venue (and a panto) like this on their doorstep.” 

Aladdin runs from Friday 6 – Tuesday 24 December 2019 so hurry and get your tickets before they fly out of the door!

June is busting out all over! - Croydon Blog 5 - June 2019

June is almost over and the rain we’ve endured has reminded us more of April showers rather than the start of summer, but in panto world things are literally busting out into full bloom!

The Imagine Theatre team all ready to go on a site visit! L-R Sarah Boden (Imagine Business & Marketing Director), Mark Walters (Designer); Steve Boden (Imagine Managing Director), Dave Edmunds (Imagine Head of Operations), Laura (graphics), Laura Taylor (Imagine Production Consultant), Greg (Fairfield Halls Technical) and George Wood (Director)

The Imagine Theatre team all ready to go on a site visit! L-R Sarah Boden (Imagine Business & Marketing Director), Mark Walters (Designer); Steve Boden (Imagine Managing Director), Dave Edmunds (Imagine Head of Operations), Laura (graphics), Laura Taylor (Imagine Production Consultant), Greg (Fairfield Halls Technical) and George Wood (Director)

The most exciting thing that’s almost in full bloom is the Fairfield Halls building itself. There’s still significant work to be done, but when we went for a site visit on 19th June we couldn’t believe how much the building had progressed since we last saw it.

High vis, hard hats and PPE abound, we headed off to explore the building!

High vis, hard hats and PPE abound, we headed off to explore the building!

Most of the scaffolding is now down and most excitingly the painters have moved in – a sure sign that work is nearing completion and focus in some areas is starting to move onto the decoration and cosmetics. It’s an absolutely beautiful building, and the amazing central staircase in the main foyer really is a location fit for Cinderella to lose her glass slipper on!

Last time we stood here, we were surrounded by scaffolding!

Last time we stood here, we were surrounded by scaffolding!

The foyer scaffolding is all down, and the painters have moved in!

The foyer scaffolding is all down, and the painters have moved in!

For the first time we were able to walk onto the main stage area of the Phoenix Concert Hall, where the panto is being staged. When we took the decision not to use the Ashcroft Theatre but to play the panto in the much bigger concert hall auditorium, all we were able to see was ground plans. We couldn’t walk on the stage, and we couldn’t visualise the auditorium as it was all covered in scaffolding. Now that almost all of the scaffolding has been removed it’s a completely different picture and we’re so excited to see just how amazing the space really is. It’s quite something.

The Phoenix Concert Hall is quite a space! And it’s slowly being revealed in all its glory from behind the scaffolding.

The Phoenix Concert Hall is quite a space! And it’s slowly being revealed in all its glory from behind the scaffolding.

There are a few remaining pieces of scaffolding, mainly with painters working from them

There are a few remaining pieces of scaffolding, mainly with painters working from them

Soaking in the atmosphere of the space, the Imagine and Fairfield Halls teams can finally see the space and understand how magical Marks scenic designs are going to look

Soaking in the atmosphere of the space, the Imagine and Fairfield Halls teams can finally see the space and understand how magical Marks scenic designs are going to look

The other project about to bloom is Mark Walters incredible set design. We know we keep on about it, but it is truly a thing of genius. The world of Cinderella that Mark has created is something to behold, and for the first time we were able to talk the team at Fairfield through Mark’s ideas and reveal his white card model. They were speechless. What we can tell you is that the design requires over 550m of LED tape, and is completely unique in the world of pantomime. The white card model just takes your breath away. We did take a sneaky picture of it… but unfortunately Mark himself got in the way so you can only see the edges *wink*

Mark Walters, designer of the panto, shows Ninon (FH), Greg (FH), Emily (FH), Dave (Imagine), Chantelle (FH), Laura (Imagine) and Steve (Imagine) the white card model of the set

Mark Walters, designer of the panto, shows Ninon (FH), Greg (FH), Emily (FH), Dave (Imagine), Chantelle (FH), Laura (Imagine) and Steve (Imagine) the white card model of the set

We’re now in the stages of the set starting to be built. It won’t be long before the first pieces of metal are being welded and the first canvas pieces being stretched.

The Marketing team at Fairfield are also ‘busting out’ with the venue’s very first brochure about to doormat. They have an incredible first season lined up, with so many events that the Imagine team want to go and see! It’s the real sign of progress within the venue, knowing that it’s now less than 3 months until the public can walk through the door and the first events take place.

Mark Walters (Designer), Steve Boden (Managing Director, Imagine Theatre) and Laura Taylor (Production Consultant, Imagine Theatre) standing in the Royal Box of the Phoenix Concert Hall, scenic plans in hand, discussing the positioning of the band

Mark Walters (Designer), Steve Boden (Managing Director, Imagine Theatre) and Laura Taylor (Production Consultant, Imagine Theatre) standing in the Royal Box of the Phoenix Concert Hall, scenic plans in hand, discussing the positioning of the band

Finally, Sunday 30th June sees the first ‘scheduled event’ in the Fairfield Halls calendar with the children’s auditions for Cinderella. We’re expecting to see hundreds of children all bursting into dance and showing us their talents. We love children’s auditions days as the standards are always incredible. Our auditions are open to EVERY child from EVERY background and take place at Braithwaite Hall. Registration is from 9.30am for a 10am start. As we are expecting a massive turn out, please be aware that we will cap it at the first 350 to turn up, so make sure you’re there early if you’re planning to audition! More details can be found about it at http://www.imaginetheatre.co.uk/pantomimes/2019-cinderella-croydon

So, we move onwards into July, where we expect set builds to be well under way, costume designs to be finalised and commissioned and further progress made on the building, script, casting and marketing. It’s an exciting time!

Photos by Sarah Boden from Imagine Theatre

A Magical Star Line-up for De Montfort Hall's Panto

De Montfort Hall are delighted to announce a truly magical line-up for their spectacular family pantomime Aladdin.

Local star and winner of the X Factor SAM BAILEY returns for her fourth year and will be playing So Shi. Joining her are Blue star ANTONY COSTA as the wicked magician Abanazar, Milkshake presenter NATHAN CONNOR as the Genie of the Lamp, Britain’s Got Talent finalist PAUL BURLING as Wishee Washee, magicians MATTHEW POMEROY and NATASHA LAMB as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, with BBC Radio Leicester’s MARTIN BALLARD as Widow Twankey.

Antony Costa rose to fame with Blue in 2001 when their debut single ‘All Rise’ reached number four in the UK singles charts, with the album of the same name reaching number one in the album charts.

No stranger to theatre Antony appeared in the West End in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, toured in Boogie Nights and he is currently touring the UK in the musical Rock of Ages as well as appearing in numerous pantomimes over the years. Antony was a contestant in the 2005 series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and has appeared in both Casualty and Holby City.

"I'm thrilled to be playing Abanazar in Aladdin at De Montfort Hall. The audiences have always been amazing in Leicester so I can't wait to have a great Christmas playing the baddie!"

Sam Bailey is hugely popular with DMH’s panto audience and at De Montfort Hall she has played Fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk, Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast and Shoo in Peter Pan, for which she won Best Supporting Female at The Great British Panto Awards, and is delighted to be returning for Aladdin.

“There’s just something about panto isn’t there? Families and friends, young and old all coming together for one afternoon, or evening, of comedy gold.”

“And, for me there is something extra special about panto at De Montfort Hall. I am very lucky that my career takes me all over the world, but nothing quite beats performing in your hometown which is why I am delighted to be taking to the stage at De Montfort Hall once again. The venue is magical at Christmas and performing in front of fellow Leicestershire people is one of my most favourite parts.”

Nathan is a familiar face to children across the country as he has been a presenter on Milkshake since 2017.

“I cannot wait for panto to start and I am most looking forward to showing my body popping moves as the Genie. I’ve always loved Aladdin and to get the chance to play the Genie is amazing! The Genie is funny, energetic and quite cool so I can’t wait to dive in and perform at De Montfort Hall this year. Bring it on Leicester!”

Another familiar face from television is Paul Burling who rose to fame on Britain’s Got Talent, reaching the final with his hilarious impressions of numerous famous people and cartoon characters. Due to his huge popularity ITV gave Paul his own one hour special show called It’s Paul Burling! Alongside his television appearances and live shows he is a veteran pantomime performing, having appeared in nearly 30 pantomimes all over the UK.

De Montfort Hall are delighted to be able to bring some extra magic to the panto stage this Christmas with professional magicians Matthew Pomeroy and Natasha Lamb. The duo have performed all over the world and, as well as being magicians, both Matthew and Natasha have trained in performing arts and are looking forward to combining these talents in Aladdin this festive season.

Of course, panto just wouldn’t be panto without a dame, and who better to take on the role of Widow Twankey than the fabulous BBC Radio Leicester presenter Martin Ballard. Martin is a well-known and hugely popular figure across Leicestershire. As well as his radio presenting his voice will be familiar to Tiger’s fans as their matchday announcer. Martin has been performing in pantomime for nearly thirty years, and is delighted to be popping on a frock once more to play Dame at De Montfort Hall for the fifth consecutive year.

Antony Flint, De Montfort Hall general manager, said: “We are thrilled to have Sam and Martin back on board after proving themselves to be pantomime favourites. Antony, Nathan and Paul will further enhance this remarkable cast.

“Panto is now firmly in the festive calendar for our audiences – and this year will be bigger and better than ever.” 

Aladdin runs from Saturday 14 December 2019 until Sunday 5 January 2020.

Comedy Favourites Return for Porthcawl Panto

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The sun has been shining in Porthcawl as summer is getting into full swing in the seaside town, however that is not stopping The Grand Pavilion looking ahead to panto season.

 The venue are delighted to announce that Vern Griffiths and Kyle Tovey will be returning for their magical family pantomime Snow White this Christmas after proving a smash hit in last year’s production of Sleeping Beauty.

 Vern is looking forward to putting on the frocks once more to play Dame and says “The Grand Pavilion is where I saw panto as a child, plus all the locals are lovely, so it has a special place in my heart.”

 “Playing Dame is great as I get to be everybody's Mam - and who wouldn't want that?! It's an honour to be (with Kyle) one of the characters that gets to interact with and be on the audiences' side. We get to draw them into our bonkers panto world, and send them away with a smile on their face! Also, I am hoping I get to soak the audience with water pistols again this year!”

 Kyle, on the other, has mixed feeling about water pistols! “I won’t forget running through the theatre last year with a water pistol only for an audience member to get their own back by throwing a whole bottle of water over me!”

 He continues: “It was an absolute delight being in Porthcawl last year. Having done panto away from Wales for a number of years hearing the roar, from what has to be one of the loudest audiences, really reinforced that I was back in my homeland. This goes hand in hand with how up for a laugh the audiences.”

 “Playing the comic always feels like you make hundreds of friends during every show as very often it’s the comic that gets to know the audience best through participation so I truly do love the role.”

 Snow White runs from Friday 13 December 2019 until Sunday 5 January 2020. With many of the performances selling out each year it is advised that you booked as early as possible for this fairy tale production.

 For more information or to book tickets contact the Grand Pavilion box office on 01656 815995 or visit www.grandpavilion.co.uk

The darling buds of May are shining through - Croydon Blog 4 - May 2019

Ore Oduba will play Dandini in Cinderella

Ore Oduba will play Dandini in Cinderella

The spring sun is shining, the grass is growing well and the buds are breaking out on the trees, leaving a fresh carpet of green and the feeling of fresh, new beginnings. It’s no different in the world of pantomime with the buds of our ideas starting to burst out into full blown concepts and progress.

May is the time when casting starts to fall into place, costume and set designs are being finalised, scripts are being written and the final pieces of the production and creative team are falling into place.

The most exciting bud to spring into life this month is the announcement that TV Star & Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba will be joining us at the Ball this Christmas to play Dandini. Whilst he is no stranger to theatre and stage performance, and he’s a brilliant ‘song and dance’ man, this will be Ore’s panto debut. Click here to see the ‘official’ press release

Ore Oduba, Tim Vine, Cat Sandion, Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron all star in Cinderella

Ore Oduba, Tim Vine, Cat Sandion, Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron all star in Cinderella

It turns out that Ore already knows his co-stars Tim Vine and Cat Sandion well, as they’ve all worked together in the past. When they met up at our recent photo shoot, it was like three pals who’d known each other for years having a good catch up over a cuppa. Along with our two outrageous Ugly Sisters Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron, there was a lot of laughing going on. This all bodes well for the panto.

Another bud which is really starting to burst through this month is that of the marketing of the venue and the show. Work is still progressing really well on the building and all is on schedule for the re-opening in September, but we’ll talk more about that in a later blog. Building a marketing campaign from scratch, as the team at Fairfield Halls are having to do, is a huge undertaking. Luckily there is a brilliant team in place, led by Kevin Quilty.

The printing of the venue brochure is under way, and it is due out any day with a brilliant programme of events planned for the opening season. It’s a massive sign that the venue is ready to burst into life and to return to what it does best – providing absolutely top-class entertainment. We’re thrilled to not only be bringing Cinderella to the Halls, but we’re also Justin Live starring CBeebies super star Justin Fletcher. That production will be at Fairfield Halls over October half term, on 22nd & 23rd October 2019.

The set and costume design ‘bud’ has so nearly also burst into flower. Mark Walters is continuing work on the designs, and every time we see them, they literally take our breath away. We’re so excited about his designs and cannot wait to tell you more about them. It’s unlike anything you will have ever seen in the pantomime world before. We just can’t quite tell you yet…

So, it’s onwards into June where we will see the final designs of set and costume before they head off to the workshops to be made, and the auditions for the children’s ensemble, which take place on Sunday 30th June. We cannot wait.

At this stage we just have a ‘white card’ model of the concept of the set. with lots more detail to follow. Watch this space!

At this stage we just have a ‘white card’ model of the concept of the set. with lots more detail to follow. Watch this space!

Josh is a smash hit in Halifax!

When we decided to introduce new panto comic Josh Benson to Halifax, we knew it’d be a fun day. We didn’t realise just HOW MUCH fun it would actually be!

Hailing from York, Josh is very much a Yorkshire lad. This year he joins the cast of Beauty and the Beast at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax as the comic, playing the role of ‘Josh’ (see what we did there?).

Whilst Josh is new to Halifax audiences, he is absolutely no stranger to panto, having taken Chesterfield audiences by storm last year.

Josh has got some big shoes to fill, taking over the role that Neil Hurst inhabited for 10 years. However, all those who met him around Halifax recently will vouch for the fact that those shoes will be more than filled by Josh’s wonderfully effervescent personality, amazing comic timing and brilliant clowning ability.

Knowing how much the Halifax panto audiences love a custard pie or 10, we decided that the best way to introduce him to the town would be just that - a pie in every location!

We thought we’d take you through our day so you can see what we got up to! (and keep an eye out on social media for the video!)

Getting a pie in the face outside Harvey’s

Getting a pie in the face outside Harvey’s

Erm, are you sure you’re allowed to do that, Josh?

Erm, are you sure you’re allowed to do that, Josh?

Off to Halifax Borough Market…

Off to Halifax Borough Market…

Next up it was time to head to the Piece Hall (after bumping into the Halifax pink running man, but we didn’t get any photos) - surely Josh was safe from the custard pies here??

Next up it was time to head to the Piece Hall (after bumping into the Halifax pink running man, but we didn’t get any photos) - surely Josh was safe from the custard pies here??

Josh was very relieved to hear there were not going to be any pies at the Library, just a chance to borrow his favourite book, “Josh’s Joke Book”.

Josh was very relieved to hear there were not going to be any pies at the Library, just a chance to borrow his favourite book, “Josh’s Joke Book”.

Surely the staff at Eureka won’t pie Josh? Nope, wrong! Of course they will.

Surely the staff at Eureka won’t pie Josh? Nope, wrong! Of course they will.

Surely Josh is going to be safe outside the Minster with Revd Canon Hilary Barber?

Surely Josh is going to be safe outside the Minster with Revd Canon Hilary Barber?

Introducing Josh to some critical panto props

Introducing Josh to some critical panto props

Josh met Theatre Manager Tim Fagan - who was the first to put a pie in his face!

Josh met Theatre Manager Tim Fagan - who was the first to put a pie in his face!

We headed to Harvey’s to film - and the staff had fun pie-ing Josh (again!)

We headed to Harvey’s to film - and the staff had fun pie-ing Josh (again!)

I want to ride my bicycle….

I want to ride my bicycle….

Josh stops off to get himself a ‘new job’ card at Paper Wishes in the market

Josh stops off to get himself a ‘new job’ card at Paper Wishes in the market

…. and another pie in the face outslde Woresman’s Greengrocers, courtesy of Mick from Grosvenors butchers.

…. and another pie in the face outslde Woresman’s Greengrocers, courtesy of Mick from Grosvenors butchers.

Nope, of course not! This time it was a pie courtesy of Al’s Emporium!

Nope, of course not! This time it was a pie courtesy of Al’s Emporium!

Josh, we DEFINITELY know climbing up there isn’t allowed!

Josh, we DEFINITELY know climbing up there isn’t allowed!

5 minutes of down time outside the Minster…

5 minutes of down time outside the Minster…

Ha ha ha! Of course not. Nice shot Revd Hilary!

Ha ha ha! Of course not. Nice shot Revd Hilary!

The final visit of the day was to Shibden Hall… and naturally they wanted to play the new game ‘let’s pie Josh’ too!

The final visit of the day was to Shibden Hall… and naturally they wanted to play the new game ‘let’s pie Josh’ too!

Fairfield Halls, Croydon gets set for a 'Strictly' sensational pantomime!

Imagine Theatre and Fairfield Halls, Croydon are delighted to announce that TV star and Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba will be making his pantomime debut as Dandini in this year’s family pantomime, Cinderella.


Ore will be known to audience members young and old from his many TV appearances including The One ShowThis Morning and of course winning the fourteenth series of Strictly Come Dancing with his partner Joanne Clifton. Ore will be joined by the previously announced comedian Tim Vine as Buttons and CBeebies presenter Cat Sandion as Fairy Godmother.


Ore says:- ‘I have been wanting to do pantomime for a long time and when this opportunity came up I just couldn’t say no. Not only is it alongside two of my pals Tim and Cat who I have worked with before, but I also can’t wait to appear in the first pantomime at the newly refurbished Fairfield Halls. 


Although it’ll be a new experience for me, many people will know I’m rarely happier than when I’m on stage singing and dancing. And, of course, anyone who’s seen me and Craig Revel Horwood on the Strictly Live Tour (often in a precarious position!) will know I do love a bit of Panto. With this cast and creative team - and some amazing audiences in Croydon - I know there’ll be a lot of laughs along the way. I can’t wait to get started’.

 

Producer Steve Boden says:- ‘Ore was the perfect addition to the star line-up for our pantomime at the Fairfield Halls and we are thrilled that he’s making his pantomime debut with us. He will be amazing as Dandini. Along with Tim and Cat I think this pantomime really does deliver something for everyone and is perfect family entertainment for the festive season. We promise that this is going to be a spectacular show and we are busy working on a brand new production especially for the Croydon audiences. Everyone will be able to enjoy this show from small children right up to grandparents, because that is what pantomime is all about, creating memories with the family’.

The eagerly awaited refurbished Fairfield Halls opens in September and the pantomime will be at the heart of the Autumn/Winter season.

Will the evil Ugly Sisters thwart the path of true love for Cinderella and her Prince Charming or will her Fairy Godmother help save the day? Bring the whole family along to the Fairfield Halls this Christmas to find out, you’ll have a ball!

Cinderella runs from 10th December 2019 to 5th January 2020.

TV Star & Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba has his invitation to the Ball in Croydon this Christmas!

TV Star & Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba has his invitation to the Ball in Croydon this Christmas!

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Cinderella stars Ore Oduba as Dandini, Comedian Tim Vine as Buttons, CBeebies Cat Sandion as the Fairy Godmother and Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron as the Ugly Sisters

Cinderella stars Ore Oduba as Dandini, Comedian Tim Vine as Buttons, CBeebies Cat Sandion as the Fairy Godmother and Jason Marc-Williams and Alistair Barron as the Ugly Sisters

Libby McArthur and Barbara Bryceland to Star in Aladdin at FTH Theatre

FTH Theatre Falkirk are delighted to announce that television star Libby McArthur and singing sensation Barbara Bryceland will be starring in their magical family pantomime Aladdin this Christmas.

Libby and Barbara.jpg

Libby, who will be playing the Empress, is a familiar face on Scottish television as she played Gina Hamilton in River City for eleven years as well as appearing in Taggart, Take the High Road, Hamish Macbeth and Rab C Nesbitt. She was also a founder member of the 80s pop group Sophisticated Boom Boom.

“I have appeared in two pantomimes prior to this, both times in Cinderella. I was at The Palace in Kilmarnock as the Wicked Step Mother and then later with Sally Howitt, who appeared in Cinderella here last year, as the Ugly Sisters. This will be my first time on stage at FTH Theatre and I am really looking forward to it.”

“I have memories of attending panto as a child with my school and being utterly engaged, enchanted, engrossed, encapsulated. Panto, like all good storytelling, is taking the risks for us, scaling the heights and plummeting to the depths that us ordinary mortals can only wish we could navigate, but with panto at least we are taken along for the ride!

“The thing I am really looking forward to about Aladdin more than anything else, is that most Scottish of traditions, the fourth wall collapsing, the banter when the weans chip in! Oh and just panto itself - Christmas, the whole pomp and ceremony and the agreement that we are all of us, just big weans!”

Barbara appeared on both The X-Factor and The Voice, and starred as Fairy Godmother in FTH Theatre’s first professional pantomime Cinderella last year and this year will be playing the magical Spirit of the Ring. She says “I absolutely loved appearing in panto last year as the cast and team were fantastic. It was my first pantomime and so was a great learning experience for me and I cannot wait to tackle a new role this year.”

Aladdin runs from Friday 6 – Tuesday 24 December 2019 so hurry and get your tickets before they fly out of the door!

 To book tickets to please contact box office on 01324 506850 or visit www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org

Adam Stafford Is ‘Dame’ For a Laugh at The Victoria Theatre This Christmas

Adam Stafford 2.JPG

The Victoria Theatre are delighted to announce the return of dame Adam Stafford for their magical family pantomime Beauty and the Beast this Christmas.

 Adam was last at the venue two years ago for their smash hit production of Aladdin and is delighted to be returning for the show he made his Victoria Theatre debut in back in 2012, Beauty and the Beast.

 “As well as loving Halifax itself, I love performing at the Victoria Theatre. It's a proper old theatre and the audiences are always very appreciative and the theatre staff and crew are friendly and welcoming. I was sad not to get to do panto last year but I was living in Beijing directing a play for their Chinese National Children's Theatre which was a great experience.”

 In addition to Beauty and the Beast Adam is currently doing some work for Alton Towers on the new live Teletubbies show and developing a new musical. He also manages a tribute show, Suspiciously Elvis which has played all over the world. Before travelling to Halifax for the festive season he will also be directing a production of Aladdin near his home in London.

 Adam adds, “Panto is very close to my heart and I really love playing dame. It is a lot of hard work but great fun as well. The one bit of advice I would give to anyone wanting to play dame is don’t grow a beard as they always need shaving off for the panto season!”   

 “I am really looking forward to working with the hilarious Josh Benson as my new son this Christmas.” 

 Get your tickets now for this ‘beast’ of a show! Beauty and the Beast runs from Saturday 14 December 2019 until Sunday 5 January 2020.

 For more information or to book tickets please contact the Victoria Theatre box office on 01422 351158 or visit www.victoriatheatre.co.uk

Palace Theatre Panto Stars Return for a Magical Cinderella

The Palace Theatre are delighted to announce the return of four hugely popular panto stars this Christmas. Fraser Boyle will be sporting an array of outrageous costumes once more as an Ugly Sister, with James McAnerney as his equally vile sibling, the hilarious Gary Morrison as the loveable Buttons alongside the Ali Cleland as the villainous Wicked Stepmother.

Cinders  Kilmarnock cast.jpeg

A spokesperson for The Palace said “Fraser, Gary and James have become huge favourites over the last few years and are an instrumental part of The Palace’s family focused style of pantomime and Ali received great acclaim (and plenty of boos) as Carabosse in last year’s Sleeping Beauty. Here at The Palace we pride ourselves on offering a top-quality pantomime which is suitable for all of the family to enjoy, and these performers are all a key ingredient in the success of pantomime due to their huge popularity with the panto audiences.”

This is Fraser’s fourth year as Dame and he is delighted to be back, “I have so many memories and things to look forward to every year at The Palace Theatre. From everyone who works backstage and front of house (and all our Christmas nights out!) there’s always a great team spirit and carry on to be had. I should probably say we all work hard too! But if I had to pick one favourite thing about The Palace panto I’d say it’s the audiences. This will be my fourth year at The Palace and I’m beginning to remember schools, groups and familiar faces in the audience. It’s so wonderful to see families who I recognise from the year before in the auditorium again. I feel so privileged to be able to play a part in their Christmas traditions. My Granny always took me and the rest of her grandchildren to see a pantomime every year and those memories are some of the happiest I have with my nearest and dearest. That’s what Christmas is all about. To be part of that now, as an actor, is something very special to me -  it always inspires me to give a little more (sometimes a little more than is in the script!), to make each and every performance unique and just for them. After all, without the audiences encouraging us all to make eejits out of ourselves we’d be performing to a wall!” 

Although the role of baddie is familiar to James McAnerney, less familiar will be the numerous hilarious and elaborate costumes he will be wearing as an Ugly Sister. He says “I played Dame Bella Straw (bale of straw) when I was at college in Jack and the Beanstalk and I have also played an ugly once before at Cumbernauld Theatre in their production or Cinderella but that was quite a long time ago. I am really looking forward to playing an ugly sister because it is a Dame that has been crossed with the panto baddie – two of the best roles in panto in my opinion. It is also great that you get to work so closely with the other Ugly Sister and the icing on the cake is that the other Ugly Sister is Fraser.”

“I’m so looking forward to working with Fraser and Gary again, as I think they bring so much warmth, passion and energy to the production and to the audience. And they are also great cast members to work with both on stage and off. This year I will get to work even closer with Fraser, which will be great. Although I didn’t think I would find myself saying to him, “you will need to give me some make up tips, and how to walk in heels!”

Gary could not agree more with his fellow cast members “My favourite thing about The Palace panto is without doubt the welcome that the audience gives us each year; they truly are fabulous. Also, working with Fraser and James is so much fun and a real pleasure, which definitely transfers across to the audience. We have been lucky enough to have been asked back for a number of years now and we know what The Palace audiences like and how much they are up for some festive fun!”

Ali is delighted to be back for her second year in The Palace Panto. “I loved being the baddie last year and I’m super excited to be keeping my ‘evil’ streak going. I really got into character last year by pranking some of my cast mates offstage, especially Fraser Boyle! I’ll be taking that craftiness and mischievousness back with me this year! Can’t wait!! 

Don’t miss out on the magical family panto Cinderella this festive season. The show runs from Saturday 23 November to Sunday 29 December 2019.

 To book tickets to please contact The Palace Theatre box office on 01563 554900 or visit www.eastayrshireleisure.com