Eden Court panto stars are putting on a special production for Highland pupils who are missing out on a Christmas pantomime this year because of Covid-19.
And theatre bosses are to light up a massive 30-foot Norwegian spruce on the front lawn – not only to give some festive cheer but provide a timely reminder of the impact Covid-19 has had on communities this year.
The theatre’s panto team has devised a festive-themed interactive show that will be beamed directly into up to 175 classrooms across the entire Highland region.
Pantomime stars Steven Wren, Ross Allan and Claire Darcy will feature in a short film about the magic of theatre to be shared in the run-up to the holidays.
Special tree inspiration of Inverness-born designer
It is all part of a special alternative Christmas programme being put on by the main theatre in the Highlands.
The theatre building and surrounding land will be transformed, including the tree for the front lawn.
The tree will serve as both a celebration of the season and a reflection on the momentous year affected by coronavirus, and is the inspiration of Inverness-born leading theatre designer Kenneth MacLeod.
Over 3,000 lights will represent the total number of Covid deaths in Scotland and a stunning star on the top of the tree will be lit by over 50 lights, representing Covid deaths in the Highland region.
The decorations are inspired by Eden Court’s unique architecture and local primary schools will be helping to make over 50 lanterns that will sit around the base of the tree.
The 1878 Bishop’s Palace building will be brought to life with light projections.
To avoid crowds gathering there will be no ‘switch-on’ ceremony of the lights on the tree or the building projections.
Both will be available to view from December 3 till early January.
Christmas classics back on the big screen
The theatre’s cinemas will feature Christmas films voted for on the venue’s social media channels.
As a result, The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Die Hard, Home Alone and the James Stewart classic It’s A Wonderful Life are all heading to the big screen.
The OneTouch Theatre springs back to life with a winter season comprising a wide-ranging selection of eye-popping productions including theatre, opera, music, ballet and exhibition.
The line-up includes NT Live’s War Horse, Fleabag and Present Laughter, Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes, Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace and much more.
The Café, Bar and Bistro will be serving a Festive Menu from December 3 with a roast turkey dinner on offer daily.
Eden Court Chief Executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “We have been absolutely determined to provide our audiences with a series of safe ways to engage with us this Christmas and I’m delighted with how our Festive programme has developed.
“From Kenneth MacLeod’s commission to dress our beautiful tree, through to providing employment to some of our panto company in making our short film and beaming into up to 175 Highland classrooms, I’m thrilled to have a team of such talent working around me.”