A Beauty of a Cast for Eden Court’s Panto

Eden Court, Inverness are delighted to announce some familiar faces are returning for Beauty and the Beast this festive season.

Once more the cast will be headed up by the popular duo, panto dame Steven Wren and the hilarious Ross Allan. Chris O’Mara is also returning this year after proving a huge hit with audiences last year when he played the villainous Fleshcreep. New faces to the Eden Court panto stage are Christie Gowans as the title character, Beauty, with Rodney Matthew playing her father, Victoria Compson-Bradford as The Enchantress and Jamie Crockart as The Beast/Prince.

The partnership of Steven and Ross has proved a great hit with audiences over the last few years, and not only does Steven perform as dame but he also directs the panto. He says of their partnership:

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“Working with Ross is a treat as he’s so inventive and so funny.  We bounce off each other really well and trust each other to go with whatever spontaneous thing happens in any particular performance so that the audience knows we’re improvising around the script, but he’s disciplined enough to come right back to the story as soon as we’ve got the laugh.  We're the same sort of performers in that regard and I feel relaxed and confident on the stage with him. As a writer and director, I love the way he plays around with ideas.  Every rehearsal is new.  He never repeats himself until we’ve decided on the best variation, and that’s the one that goes into the show.  he trusts me as a director and acting partner too and that’s crucial for the relationship to work as well as it does.”

“Eden Court is populated with the most adorable people to work with.  The encouragement and support I get from the staff is extraordinary.  So that makes it a complete event for the audience.  It’s not just about what we do on stage, but it’s what the restaurant, box office, bar staff and theatre ushers do that make it a total night out for everyone.  What’s surprised me over the years is the build-up of the audience.  Something like 36 000 people see the show, and some of them come back more than once.  It’s always a wee thrill when someone stops me in the street or in the supermarket and tells me how much they’ve enjoyed the panto (not sure how they recognise me out of make-up, but I’ll leave that aside for now). The best thing about it for the audience is that they get a full story told in a funny and entertaining way that makes 3 year olds and 93 year olds laugh and smile.  For many people, it sets the mood for Christmas and I'm delighted that we can be a part of that.”

Ross Allan has had a busy year so far as he recently performed in Aberdeen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is currently working at the Dundee Rep. He says:

“I agree with Steven about how wonderful the audience is. The people of Inverness have really made me feel special and welcome over the last six years there and it feels like a second home to me now going in to my seventh panto season. A special mention to everyone that works at Eden Court. They are all a very special bunch of people!”

Christie Gowans is very excited to be taking on the title role of Beauty. Beauty and the Beast has been my absolute favourite fairy tale for as long as I can remember (so much so I can quote the Disney film word for word!), and I think that’s because of its poignant and enduring messages of never judging a book by its cover, always embracing your uniqueness and the power of love! It also has so many wonderful characters that capture your heart, and I particularly love Belle for daring to stand out from the crowd and always standing up for what she believes in!” 

“Panto season is the most magical and laughter filled part of my year! I’m in the Christmas mood from the first day of rehearsal to the final show day, and I love seeing the joy that panto brings to everyone of all ages.” 

Chris O’Mara is relishing getting to be wicked again this Christmas season as he takes on the role of the arrogant Eugene. “I believe my character has a lot of similarities to Gaston from the Disney version and over the last year or so I've become a bit of a gym bunny, so Gaston and I are definitely kindred spirits in that sense. We both probably spend a little too long looking at ourselves in the mirror too...!”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Friday 6 December 2019 – Sunday 5 January 2020.

For more information or to book tickets call the Eden Court box office on 01463 234234 or visit the website www.eden-court.co.uk