Sleeping Beauty ready to cast a spell on Fifers this panto season

Billy Mack and Alan Orr star in the 2018 pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.
Billy Mack and Alan Orr star in the 2018 pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.

A classic fairy tale involving a beautiful princess, a sleeping enchantment and a handsome prince is set to cast a magical spell over Fife audiences this Christmas.

The Alhambra Theatre pantomime for 2018 is the timeless tale of Sleeping Beauty and it is running from December 7-29.

From left: Billy Mack, Allan Orr and Nikki Auld. Pic: David Wardle.

From left: Billy Mack, Allan Orr and Nikki Auld. Pic: David Wardle.

Starring Fife’s favourite dame, Billy Mack, the show features an all-star cast of stage and screen, along with fantastic costumes, a live orchestra, spectacular sets and special effects, all with a special twist.

The production will again encompass all the elements of a traditional family pantomime that Alhambra audiences have come to love.

Billy Mack, winner of the CATS Theatre Awards for the Dundee Rep’s production of Death of a Salesman, will lead the cast in this year’s production of Sleeping Beauty.

Billy said he is looking forward to returning to Fife once again, adding: “I am thrilled to be returning to play the dame. The Alhambra is a wonderful venue and I can’t wait to tread the boards.”

Jo Freer plays the role of the Good Fairy,  Craig McDougall plays the Prince and Helena Mitchell takes on the role of Sleeping Beauty.

Jo Freer plays the role of the Good Fairy, Craig McDougall plays the Prince and Helena Mitchell takes on the role of Sleeping Beauty.

He revealed what audiences can expect from this year’s panto: “Expect special effects, jokes, comedy costumes and surprises a-plenty.

“I am really excited to begin the run.

“This year’s pantomime is a wee cracker. There is a beautiful set and a good strong cast.

“Helena Mitchell is playing Sleeping Beauty, I am looking forward to working with her, and Craig MacDougall is the Prince – he was in the panto with us last year.

Sleeping Beauty starts its run at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline this Friday.

Sleeping Beauty starts its run at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline this Friday.

“Then we have Silly Billy or Solly Wully, who is my son, played by Alan Orr. We had a good relationship last year when we worked together and I want to build on that this year.”

Billy explained the story behind the Alhambra’s version of Sleeping Beauty.

He said: “It is set in 1918 in Broom Hall which is a lot like Downtown Abbey, it is very posh. We are then transported through time to the present day – a little bit of the old Tardis and Doctor Who, that propel us to the present day. Sleeping Beauty has a 100-year sleep until she is wakened by her true love.

“The time leap and some magic take us from the past to the present.”

Billy reveals the roles in this year’s panto: “Mark Hayden is the butler and he transforms into the time lord travelling through time in his big blue box. The director is a new one this year, Bruce Strachan from Edinburgh. It is good to get someone new on board with fresh ideas.

“I play the dame, Mrs Muddles. She tends to get words mixed up and gets things back to front. I am wearing heels this year so I am a wee bit posher – moving from council house up to private sector.

“She is a very joyful person. In previous years I have always been looking for a man but this year I have been following the life of a nun, although I am open to suggestions!

“I am not as desperate as I have been in previous years.

“Mrs Muddles is the housekeeper at Broom Hall.

“She is also a surrogate mother to Harry and his siblings.”

Billy said he gets a lot of enjoyment from the characters he plays, adding: “A pantomime is probably a child’s first time in a theatre and mum and dads always want to come back – I like to play to all ages.

“ It is something I just love doing. I have played serious roles in theatre so doing pantomime gives you a chance to be childlike.

“I like the relationship with the audience and interacting with them.

“It is such fun and I get a real buzz from doing it.”

But what is Billy’s favourite panto role?

“They are all different,” he said, “but the very first time I played in pantomime is probably my favourite. I have done lots of Christmas shows but I was invited to Hereford to do Aladdin to play Ebeneezer, the baddie. That was the first panto I had ever been in. It is totally different from a Christmas show. I really enjoyed playing the baddie.

“When I was offered Kirkcaldy it was Babes in the Wood and that was the first time I played the dame, and it was the best because I was new to it and, because it was the first time playing a dame, there was a risk factor.

“But I have never had a reaction from an audience like I did that first time. It was almost like being a rock star! It’s a fantastic feeling when people get your sense of humour.”

Billy said the audiences in Fife let you know fairly quickly if they have enjoyed your performance.

“They are not short in telling you if they have not enjoyed it,” he explained.

“They are honest, they call a spade a spade. If they have not enjoyed your performance they will let you know.

“Fife is predominantly where I have made my living. It is also where you get a great following. Fifers are faithful they will come and support you. If you don’t work hard enough they will let you know!”

This is Billy’s third year at the Alhambra and he has worked in pantomime for 17 years.

And he has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“I will do panto until the day I die,” he said.

“It is up to the audiences and the bosses how long I stay, but as long as I have the physicality and I am able to move, I will keep going!I am a very lucky man to be able to do something I love.”

Director Bruce Strachan is also looking forward to this year’s panto:

“I can’t wait to get started. The Alhambra has an ever-growing reputation for producing high quality pantomimes and I am delighted to be part of this exciting new production. I am very much looking forward to working with the amazing cast.

“Our audiences are going to have a sparkling time this Christmas.”

○Tickets can be purchased from the Alhambra Theatre on 01383 740384/733666 or via Ticketmaster online by visiting www.ticketmaster.co.uk