December just wouldn’t be the same in Scotland’s theatres if it wasn’t for the annual pantomime and in recent years it’s been no different at the Alhambra.
The theatre in Canmore Street is once again staging a big city panto - and this year it’s giant.
‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, written by Russell Lane, runs at the Dunfermline venue until December 28.
It’s a new take on the classic fairytale.
And a few familiar faces are returning to the Kingdom to be part of the show.
Jane McCarry, known as Still Game’s Isa Brennan, is back once again, along with Fife’s own Donna Hazelton, who previously won Channel 4’s ‘Musicality’.
They will be joined by last year’s Prince Charming in ‘Cinderella’, Colin McCredie.
Jane and Colin both took time out of rehearsals to chat to the Press.
And they are both thrilled to be back at the Alhambra.
Jane said: “It’s exciting. It’s Donna, Colin and I again.
“We get on really well and have great fun together.”
There’s no shortage of pantos at venues around Scotland at this time of year, so what is it about Dunfermline and the Alhambra that’s brought the actors back?
“Because I was asked!” laughs Colin, who is well know n for playing DC Stuart Fraser in ‘Taggart’ in the past.
“ It was great to be asked back.
“I really enjoyed last year.
“It’s a short run which works out nicely and we get New Year off to spend with family.
“It’s a great theatre and we had a great run last year.”
She said: “We had a good time last year and for me a lot of the bigger pantos, the dates are too long and you’re doing it right into January.
“This year in Dunfermline it’s just until the 28th.
“It’s the first time since my son was born that I’ve not been working on his birthday.
“This way I get to enjoy doing a big panto in a proper theatre that’s beautiful and know it’s going to be really good.”
So what’s in store for the audiences this year?
“It’s Russell Lane who has written the script this year,” explained Jane.
“He used to write a lot for Stanley Baxter.
“It’s very traditional with a modern twist.”
Colin added: “ It’s old school traditional Scottish pantomime.
“It’s nice to work with someone from that generation.”
Jane continued: “Donna and I are both fairies this year. It’s lovely.
“This is our third job together.”
Jane plays Fairy Nuff, while Donna Hazelton is Fairy Duff.
Jane said: “The cast are all super and the costumes are great and all the people backstage do a wonderful job.”
And for Colin it’s a slightly different role that he’s playing this time round.
“I’m the stereotypical Simple Simon character, although that’s very English so we have Daft Davie to make it a lot more relevant.
“He is the joker.
“I’ve never played that part before so it’s good to have the chance.”
Also starring in this year’s production is Gayle Telfer Stevens from ‘Gary: Tank Commander’, Paul Luebke and Lucy Hutchinson.
The show opened at the theatre last night, but when the cast spoke to The Press rehearsals were underway.
Colin said: “One of the strange things about panto is that so much depends on props and scenery so when you’re blocking it out in a room, you’re only getting 25 per cent of what the show’s going to be.
“When you’re doing a proper play there’s a lot of straight dialogue to run through, but with panto it’s not the same and you’re sometimes feeling a bit under prepared.”
Jane said: “The team always make it such a spectacle.
“It’s such a gorgeous theatre.
“Dunfermline is a lovely town, and it’s lovely at Christmas.
“The panto is brilliant for the folk that love it. It will be great fun.”
All of the things audiences have come to love from the panto at the Alhambra will be featuring again this year including the spectacular sets, stunning special effects and glittering costumes.
Russell Lane, writer and director added: “The story of Jack and the Beanstalk is a magical one and we have brought together a great cast, in fact an international cast – they come to us from all four corners of the job centre! I am sure you will love them all in this truly spectacular pantomime.
“Indeed if you are an animal lover you will love the show even more because we have a cow, elephant, camel and a gorilla and even mice all jostling for centre stage.”
And what’s so magical about pantomime?
Colin said: “For a lot of people it’s the only time they go to the theatre.
“For a lot of children it’s the first time they have ever gone to the theatre.
“The first time I saw a panto was in Perth when I was six.
“You want to make it brilliant so they remember it and will want to take their own children in the future.
“It’s quite a lot of pressure on us because of that.”
Jack and the Beanstalk runs until December 28.