Television stars return to the Kilmarnock Palace panto this year in a brand new production of Beauty and the Beast written by the Scottish King of Panto, Alan McHugh, who writes pantomime scripts for some of the biggest theatres in the UK.
Amongst the line-up for Beauty and the Beast are on-screen River City couple Sally Howitt and Billy McElhaney.
Sally has appeared in River City as Scarlett Adams since 2003 as well as appearing in Taggart, Brookside, EastEnders, Trial and Retribution and Rab C Nesbitt. Sally will be playing the evil fairy Nightshade and is relishing the prospect.
“When I got offered the panto my first question was ‘do I get to play a baddie?’ Baddies are by far the most fun character and Nightshade sounds deliciously wicked.”
Billy McElhaney, who first appeared in the soap back in 2004 plays Sally’s husband Jimmy Mullen. He has appeared in numerous pantomimes and Christmas shows, including playing Smee in Peter Pan at Carnegie Hall last year, and can’t wait to take on the role of Angus in Beauty and the Beast.
“I love Christmas and it is definitely the most exciting time of the year for kids. Christmas is all about the fun factor, and panto is a big part of that. I love the sheer joy on kids’ faces when they are joining in with the show.”
The Palace Theatre is the home of variety panto and has created and nurtured home grown local talent over the years including Liam Dolan, Craig Glover and Jonny Mac. The Palace Theatre intend to continue with this tradition with Fraser Boyle who previously played dame at Ayr and is delighted to be joining the Palace team this Christmas as Dame Betty.
There will be one familiar face gracing the stage, that of Beauty, played by the wonderful Amber Howland, who made her Palace panto debut as Jill McSkinner last year.
Steve Boden, Managing Director of Imagine Theatre who produce the show says “The opportunity to create a brand new panto at the Palace this year is very thrilling. We are really proud of the pantomimes we have produced here over the last 13 years and very excited to be moving the show in a new direction. However, we will still be offering a traditional family pantomime with plenty of comedy and slapstick humour, traits that have been synonymous with Palace pantomimes over the years .”