Glasgow Arts community panto celebrates 10 years

Glasgow Arts community panto celebrates 10 years

The Glasgow Arts Community Touring Pantomime is 10 years old. Oh yes it is! Since 2009, the touring Christmas show has been staged in community venues throughout Glasgow, bringing Yuletide cheer and high-quality theatre to the places where people live at prices they can afford.

And when the curtain rises next month (December 3) in Penilee, Castlemilk and a dozen more community venues, local audiences will be continuing in a decade-long tradition as they laugh, hiss and sing along with the professional cast of goodies, baddies and pantomime dames.

This year’s Glasgow Arts Community panto is Beauty And The Beast. Written by Alan McHugh, directed by Julie Brown with Karen MacIver as musical director, it features a stellar cast including Storm-Skyler McClure as Belle along with Kevin Lennon and Andrew Marley as her good pals, Betty’n’Boaby. They are determined to break the curse cast on unfortunate Prince Sebastian (Trevor O’Connell) and his faithful housekeeper Agnes (Elaine M Ellis) by nasty witch, Deadly Nightshade (Neshla Caplan).

The show is currently rehearsing in the Barmulloch Community Centre. But Beauty And The Beast is far from a one-off. Sleeping Beauty and Mother Goose are right behind her. Oh no they’re not? Indeed they are – along with Cinderella, Aladdin and other well-loved panto classics, some of them specially adapted for Glasgow audiences with titles such as Weans In The Wid and Ricky McWhittington.

Every year since 2009, the fully professional but affordably-ticketed production has been staged as part of the year-round Glasgow Arts community touring network. Aimed at a wide demographic including families, primary schoolchildren, youth groups and vulnerable adults, it tours throughout December to 14 community venues including Lodging House Mission – a Glasgow-based charity dedicated to providing care and support to homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded people. With 21 performances scheduled, some 4,000 people are expected to see the show.

“The value of this professional Christmas touring pantomime is huge,” says Mari Binnie who, along with fellow Glasgow Arts producer Jon Pope, has been producing those community pantomimes for the past decade. “The fact that audiences are always at or near capacity speaks for itself. In past years, I’ve stood at the door saying goodbye to audiences at community centres and heard from adults and children alike about how good it is to have such fun-filled, joyful performances on their doorsteps – and at an affordable price that means they can bring a whole family or group along.

“Theatre has the power to make us view the world differently, switch off from everyday stresses or simply make us experience laughter or empathy. Everyone should have access to high-quality arts and theatre, and the community pantomime is a really successful model for achieving this.”

Glasgow Life’s director of cultural services, Jill Miller, said: “Ten years of the Glasgow Arts Community Touring pantomime is a milestone well worth celebrating. Bringing high-quality entertainment right into the heart of communities, it gives people the chance to get into the festive spirit and enjoy a first-class production, within their own neighbourhood.

“There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned pantomime for giving audiences the chance to really get in the production. It gives people the opportunity to experience good quality live theatre, in some cases, inspiring them to get involved in the drama, creative writing or other related activity.

“Most importantly, it’s always a hugely enjoyable highlight of the year – and I can’t wait to see this year’s show, which promises to be yet another Christmas cracker.”

A brief history of the Glasgow Arts Community Panto: download the full press release here