X-Men star James McAvoy's unknown role as Bobby Buckfast in panto at Fife theatre

James McAvoy may be known to millions of fans as Professor X in the hit series of X-Men films - but started out in panto in a Fife theatre!

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 4:20 pm
James McAvoy panto review from 1999 in Fife Free Press - he appeared as Bobby Buckfast in Beauty & The Beast at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy
James McAvoy panto review from 1999 in Fife Free Press - he appeared as Bobby Buckfast in Beauty & The Beast at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy

Long before Hollywood beckoned, he appeared in one of the famous annual festive shows staged at Kirkcaldy’s Adam Smith Theatre. Oh yes he did!

He took to the stage of the theatre barely a few hundred yards from where fellow Scots acting stars, Ewan McGregor and Shirley Henderson, studied at Fife College.

They’d long since graduated when he arrived for curtain up in December 1999.

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James McAvoy playing Bobby Buckfast in panto at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy

McAvoy was cast as Bobby Buckfast – a very different role from previous stage appearances in Romeo and Juliet, and West Side Story – and he didn’t need his X-Men powers either to wow the audience.

According to the Fife Free Press review, he and his co-stars had “adults and children alike hooting with delight”.

And the audience “was quick to respond to their antics as they tried to trip up evil sorceress Sadista with their exploits”.

McAvoy and the cast took their final bows in early January as the curtain fell on another festive hit.

James McAvoy playing Bobby Buckfast in panto at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy

Interestingly, it was his one and only foray into the world of panto as he turned his attentions to Shakespeare and theatre before making his big breakthrough in Channel4’s ground-breaking drama ‘Shameless’.

Then it was on to the big screen where he won plaudits for his performances in The Last King Of Scotland and Atonement before going global with the X-Men franchise in 2010.

McAvoy is arguably the biggest name to have stepped into the spotlight during panto season at the Adam Smith - but he’s not the only one.

Over the years the theatre has welcomed some familiar faces.

Stalwarts such as Alastair McDonald ad Jimmy Logan have appeared along with up and coming names such as a fresh faced Joe Pasquale, the Chuckle Brothers – who then performed under the name of the Harman Brothers in 1983 – and assorted soap stars from High Road and River City.

This year’s panto fell victim to pandemic lockdown, but it may well be the first show staged at the end of 2021 as the venue undergoes a major £3m transformation .