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Super Saturday's panto peak as Dingwall Town Hall and Eden Court productions overlap

By Hector MacKenzie

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Dingwall Players rehearsing for the panto. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Dingwall Players rehearsing for the panto. Picture: James Mackenzie.

PANTO season is well and truly under way with contrasting productions in two key Highland communities now in full swing.

Dingwall Players are gearing up today for their final performances of The Wicked Witches of Oz by Peter Nuttall.

The matinee performance of the fun-packed show at Dingwall Town Hall is showing as sold out on the am-dram group's website.

But there are still at time of writing a few tickets left to grab for the final performance at 7.30pm.

See here to check details.

Meanwhile in the Highlands' biggest purpose-built arts venue, Eden Court, an epic run of this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty, got under way this week.

Imagine Theatre's latest comical caper– starring Steven Wren, Ross Allan and Tia Bobbi Henry – runs until Sunday, January 2024.

The Eden Court panto is an annual favourite with tens of thousands of people across the Highlands and attracts people from all corners of the region.

As well as a family-friendly seasonal highlight for theatre-goers, the panto provides a massive off-season boost to the area's economy and a vital source of income for cast and production crew.

Rebecca Holt, chief executive, Eden Court, said: "Panto is a really special moment in the year for Eden Court. As our panto director and dame, Steven Wren, says – we’re in the business of making memories. 35,000 people will come through our doors to see Sleeping Beauty over the coming five weeks, including over 4000 school children, many of who will be experiencing live theatre for the first time.

"The affection and loyalty that local audiences have to Eden Court’s panto is really remarkable – with generations of families attending, sometimes more than once during the run. As a business, the footfall at this time of year and the income that it generates it vital to our sustainability as an organisation here to serve the Highlands year-round."

Steven Wren in character for Sleeping Beauty at Eden Court. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon.
Steven Wren in character for Sleeping Beauty at Eden Court. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon.

Steven Wren is the director of and dame in Sleeping Beauty. While he won't have an awful lot of time on his hands over the next month, he still sees the Highlands as "his happy place" for a variety of reasons.

He said: "I’ve been doing the pantos in Inverness for 11 years now and every year, the joy of the audience responses sees me through the season. So warm, so friendly. The other thing I love about Inverness is its location. I spend my days off driving into the countryside and walking in forests, seeing stunning hillsides and waterfalls, gorges and coasts. It’s how I get back all the energy I spend doing the show. Inverness truly is my happy place."

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