Panto magic: Ian relishing new challenge as Buttons on stage at Alhambra Theatre

Panto is back and our theatres are once again ringing to the sound of laughter as the most traditional of festive shows make a welcome return.

By Allan Crow
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 4:42 pm

The Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline is pulling out all the stops for its presentation of Cinderella which opens on December 15 for a two-week run.

The venue - the biggest theatre in the region - has long championed the traditional panto, and this show is packed with all the fun and colour you expect from a festive show.

Ian ‘Sheepie’ Smith stars as Buttons in a cast which also includes familiar faces from River City and from the stage.

Ian 'Sheepie' Smith stars as Buttons at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline

Ian’s Dunfermline debut was meant to happen last year until lockdown saw the theatre join all others and go dark.

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After 12 years topping the bill at Motherwell’s main panto, he is looking forward to performing in a new venue.

“‘I’m really excited - and a bit nervous” he said.

Cinderella opens at the Alhambra Theatre on December 15

“I loved my time in Motherwell but it was time for a change."

“The Alhambra is a much bigger venue, but it looks fantastic. Just walking on stage last year to do some promotional photos was such a great feeling.

“It is a fantastic, traditional theatre - I can picture all the stars who have been on this stage.

Ian reckons the return of panto is exactly what audiences need after such a prolonged absence of any live theatre during the pandemic.

And his role as Buttons is perfectly suited to generate lots of laughs and audience interaction.

“Audiences love to enjoy themselves at a panto,” he said.

”I always try to base my comedy on the whole audience - lots of jokes for kids, and then some for adults where the youngsters still laugh along.

“I’ve played Buttons once before and it’s a great role - lots of comedy and you fall in love with Cinderella!”

Ian and the cast are now in rehearsals ahead of opening night. Some of their paths have already crossed at venues around the country - and those links will help as they prepare for curtain up.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s really important we all get along off stage as much as we do on stage, and the cast members I’ve met before are fantastic.”

Cinderella also stars Jenny Douglas in the title role.She has starred in UK tour of We Will Rock You and was also in BBC's Over the Rainbow in Andrew Lloyd Webber's search for Dorothy.

Vivienne Carlyle, who plays the Fairy Godmother, has appeared in the West End with Blood Brothers and Cat.

She was also in the cast, playin the lead role of Mrs Johnstone when Blood Brothers came to the Alhambra in 2012.

The Ugly Sisters feature Cameron Fulton, who plays Tyler Foulkes in River City, and David Rankine

From the National Theatre of Scotland, while West End actor Matthew McKenna plays Prince. Matthew.

The pantomime promises fun, laughter, and thrills and spills for the whole family. The return of the Alhambra pantomime will continue the annual family festive tradition, and will celebrate the return of shared audience panto experience, post pandemic. Patrons will delight in cheering on their hero, and of course booing the Villain!

Ticket details via

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