For the past seven years, Funbox have been in the business of making precious memories for the thousands of wee fans who have flocked to their shows.
And memories are very much to the fore now as the much-loved family entertainment group criss-cross Scotland on their final tour before bowing out, with their last show in Aberdeen being staged at the Music Hall on Saturday August 6.
“We’ve had some lovely gifts and presents and that’s always a lump-in-the-throat moment when you have a wee one we’ve known for six or seven years come in to say their farewell,” said Torphins-born Kevin Macleod who is on the road with fellow Funbox star Anya Scott-Rodgers.
“That’s really lovely and affecting, because we always did have a really good relationship with our followers. We would always go out after a show and say hello, get photos and have a chat and we remembered people and they remembered us.
Kids who come to see Funbox shows remember them for life
“Somebody wiser than us once said we’re in the business of making memories. Kids who come to see the show or if they got up on stage to help us, these are things they remember for the rest of their lives. It’s great to say we’ve been able to do that, it’s been a real privilege.”
Despite all the love and affection, the Funbox team have made the tough choice to call it a day, as the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the company’s finances and the current recession is still biting into much-needed ticket sales.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to wrap things up, but we just couldn’t see a way round the financial thing,” said Kevin.
But the Funbox crew wanted to get on the road one last time, precisely because they have such a special place in their fans’ hearts.
“We were determined to not just stop, we had to say goodbye because right from the start people have been behind us and have been part of our story. We wouldn’t have had the past seven years without the support of the fans,” said Kevin.
Funbox are ready for a party in the jungle at the Music Hall
Kevin, Anya, and the vital third member of the team, Bonzo the Dog, are touring with not just one, but three shows – Jungle Party, How To Be A Superhero and Funky Farm, all leading up to the last ever Funbox show, The Final Fling, at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on September 18.
This Saturday will see them present Jungle Party to their Aberdeen fans as they bow out of the Granite City.
“We are having a party in the jungle and our audience are all invited. And we have some surprise guests – which might be some animals who don’t act the way you expect them to,” said Kevin, adding jungle party will be full of the fun, jokes and singalong songs that are Funbox’s trademark way of entertaining the whole family.
The final Music Hall show for Funbox will be a particularly poignant moment for Kevin. His life in entertainment goes back to his childhood when he was a stalwart of Aberdeen theatre companies like Attic.
He counts among his earliest memories being taken to see the panto at His Majesty’s with Mile-End School.
“I just remember being transported into this world of red velvet and polished brass,” he said, adding he had childhood memories of singing in the Music Hall with the school choir.
His early career though was backstage as a stage manager eventually joining the crew of the Singing Kettle, before its founders Artie Trezise and Cilla Fisher tempted him in front of the tab and into the spotlight in 2001.
Being part of Funbox has been a joy and privilege says Kevin Macleod
Kevin is almost taken aback at the thought he has now been on stage entertaining children for 21 years, first with the Singing Kettle, then with Funbox.
The company was formed after Cilla and Artie bowed out, with Kevin, Anya and Gary Coupland – who retired last year – taking up the mantle of Scotland’s most-loved family show.
“It has been an utter joy and privilege to effectively be paid to dress up and be an idiot … it’s been fantastic.”
And he has some special memories of all those years – including playing a gig for the Royal Family of Jordan in 2004 at a birthday party for Princess Salma in the family’s palace in Amman.
“When the King and Queen of Jordan got in touch to ask us we would do a show in the palace, we were perplexed as to why or how this had happened,” said Kevin.
“It turned out the reason the princess had heard of Singing Kettle was because their nanny was from South Queensferry and had DVDs with them. So the princess when asked what she wanted for her fourth birthday said ‘them’.”
Funbox will play one last gig in the north-east – at Newtonhill’s Bettridge Centre on September 11. A week later Kevin and Anya will close the Funbox for good with a concert at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall that will feature their “greatest hits” of popular songs from Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off A Bus to Bunny Fou Fou.
Final Funbox concert will be “rollercoaster day” of tears and pride
Kevin admits he is trying not to think too much about how it will feel to step off the stage as the curtain comes down on Funbox for the very last time.
“I have a feeling there will be tears… but it might just be jubilation, you don’t know, but it will be a roller coaster of a day,” he said.
“I think we can go out thinking we’ve done a good job, something fun and silly. We can be proud of what we have done over seven years. We’ve made people smile, we’ve made people laugh and we’ve got people singing. There’s nothing better than that.”
For information and tickets for Jungle Party at the Music Hall visit aberdeenperformingarts.com