Kirkcaldy venue unveils unique panto – and the return of legendary dame Billy Mack
Kirkcaldy will get a panto after all - complete with Billy Mack, the doyen of dames in the Kingdom.
He is part of the first ever festive show to be staged at the Kings Live Lounge, which will run for six weeks.
Ya Wee Sleeping Beauty may be the smallest panto ever staged in town, but it is also the most ambitious endeavour yet from the Kings Theatre on the Esplanade - one that could bring thousands of fans through its doors to enjoy the daily shows.
It is also only one of two pantos going ahead anywhere in the Kingdom this year, and the team behind it is committed to delivering a high quality show.
The panto - dubbed a ‘panteenie’ on account of the scale necessary to fit on to the venue’s small stage - will have a cast of just five, featuring local professional actors, and plus musicians and tech team.
But they plan to create some Christmas magic at a venue which has already hosted live music, comedy and cabaret.
With a capacity of just 100 every night, demand for tickets is expected to be high.
Kirkcaldy is a town which loves its annual panto - it is one of the stalwarts of Scotland’s vibrant Christmas season which sees many colourful shows unveiled to huge audiences from Aberdeen to the Borders.
The closure of the Adam Smith leaves a dame-sized gap in the market for the next two years; one that the Kings is keen to tap into while adhering to all the traditions associated with panto.
All good shows involving Ugly Sisters, dames and principal boys must have a strong local feel to it - and this one is aiming its gags firmly at a Fife audience, as evidenced by the name of dame.
Billy plays Bev Park, and you can also add in Prince Mark Inch and King Horn ...and that’s only the start of the fun.
The team behind the show are steeped in the tradition of panto, and were at the helm of many hugely successful productions at the Adam Smith Theatre.
And while that venue is closed for a £3m refurbishment, they are excited about creating a new panto legacy on the town’s waterfront.
Jonathan Stone, who is writing and directing the show, said: “We had to save Christmas in Kirkcaldy!
“It’s going to be fantastic - we’re creating the best possible high quality panto in the most intimate of spaces. It’s a wee show with a big heart.”
With everything scaled down to fit the venue, the producers have come up with ingenious ways of factoring in dancers and big set numbers - all of which remain under wraps - while making sure the audiences get a full panto experience.
“We’re writing the show for the space rather than shrinking something for a much larger venue,” said Jonathon. “It will be amazing
“And the board at the Kings have been fantastic. They have thrown themselves behind this and are determined to make it work”
For Billy, it marks a return to a town with a special place in his heart - it was where he first donned the outrageous costumes and became a panto dame.
He said “I am beyond thrilled to be returning to my true panto home this Christmas - and at this fabulous new venue!
“The venue is intimate. Everyone will see you face to face from start to finish, and that makes it unique.
“Everything and everyone will have to be on cue - if there’s a slip, everyone will see we will have to ensure it is the best experience possible.”
Billy also believes it will be the perfect introduction to panto for a new generation of youngsters.
“These shows are often their experience of live theatre, so the fact it is in a small halal rather than a big venue will make it really special.”
And while they enjoy the noise and slapstick comedy, adults won’t be overlooked.
The panto plans a week of ‘adult shows’ after New Year to round off its festive run - “come with your kids before Christmas, then come back and be a kid!” said Jonathon.
Rehearsals will get underway in November, while behind the scenes, preparatory work is already in hand.
The venue re-opened its doors last week after an 18-month pandemic closure.
It relaunched with a night of comedy, with visitors getting to see the improvements which have been made behind closed doors - the bar area has a whole new look.
The panto now gives the Kings an opportunity to attract many more people inside, possibly for the very first time.
As a venue it had just started to carve out a great reputation when the pandemic struck.
It has since secured key funding to carry out a number of repairs and renovations, over and above the work already done - and the Christmas show is another major step forward.
John Murray chairman of the Kings Theatre added “After all these months of pandemic closure the trustees are delighted to announce this Christmas production in association with the best in the business.
“Our intimate venue will provide the laughs, thrills and surprises in this £100,000 production!”
Added Jonathon: “It has to look amazing so we are working on sets designed specifically for this stage, and the quality will be first class
“What we are doing is giving it a theatrical feel from the moment you walk into the building.”
“Ya Wee Sleeping Beauty” will run at the Kings from December 1 until January 16.
Tickets from £10 are on sale via http://thekingstheatrekirkcaldy.com/