We might be in the height of summer, but Aberdeen Arts Centre is already busy getting ready for Christmas, and the highly-anticipated panto season.
Promising to bring a lot of festive fun, local references, dazzling costumes and great music to the King Street venue, TaleGate Theatre Productions cannot wait to stage its 2021 panto Sleeping Beauty.
Following months of no live theatre performances due to the ongoing pandemic, James Worthington, artistic director of TaleGate Theatre Productions, is over the moon to once again direct the Aberdeen Arts Centre’s Christmas show.
James, who previously directed the venue’s Aladdin in 2019, said: “We wanted to do another pantomime that has lots of action and lots of fun.
“In 2019, we had a magical flying carpet moment, so we wanted to do a show that had a really big special effect, and this year, the children and their families aren’t going to be disappointed with our humongous dragon breathing fire and smoke finale – it’s very impressive.”
Putting local twist on Sleeping Beauty
As always, James promises to put a local twist on the popular tale which will run from November 28 to December 24.
He said: “The shows the Arts Centre put on are for the community – I can promise you it’s going to be full of fun, lots of Doric, lots of local references and an affa fine array of dancing.”
In addition, the show’s director – who recently starred in the Arts Centre’s first in-house theatre production since 2019 Easy Money – is delighted three north-east actors will portray the panto’s main characters.
He said: “We’re really lucky to have three local performers. We’ll have Phil Napier back as Queenie, we have got Sarah Ord back, this time playing Fairy Fabulous, and we’ve got a new girl for us – Megan Wright – she’s also from Aberdeen and she’ll be playing the evil (fairy) Molevola.”
With incredible props and the show’s wigs created by professional West End wigmakers, there’s a lot of look forward to.
“The dame has 13 costume changes this year – I won’t tell you what they are, I’ll keep it a secret, but they’re all sequins and they’re all bright,” said the director.
Fun for all the family
James cannot want to welcome families and children to what may be their first theatrical experience.
He said: “Pantomimes are for all generations. There’s something in for the kids and there’s something in for the adults – there’ll be the odd reference that will fly right above the kids’ heads and will have the mums and dads laughing their heads off.”
Aberdeen Arts Centre manager Stephanie Walls hopes all those who wanted to see the Christmas extravaganza last year will be able to venture out to the theatre this year for much-needed light entertainment.
She said: “I think that people are going to be so ready to just get back to a bit of normality – and what’s better than your first introduction back to the theatre to be a panto?”
At the moment, the Arts Centre is selling tickets for its full capacity – 350 seats.
Stephanie said: “We’re hoping that August 9 goes ahead (when most coronavirus restrictions should be removed). If for whatever reason we cannot have everybody in, we can always revert back to the pod system (families sitting together, socially distanced from other groups). Either way, as long as we don’t go to any further lockdown, we’re hoping to give the city a panto this year.”
Also staging Halloween panto
Local theatre fans who cannot wait for their panto-fix, are now also able to book tickets to see TaleGate Theatre Productions’s Harry Panto in October.
“Happy Halloween! We’re doing something a little bit different,” said James.
“We’re doing a parody pantomime. We’re spoofing a certain wizard boy in a show called Harry Panto – expect a lot of wizarding references. It’s just something really different to trick or treating that will celebrate Halloween in a modern way with a panto comedy flare to it.”
Harry Panto is showing at Aberdeen Arts Centre on October 16 and 17. Tickets are on sale now and can be booked here.