Perth Theatre is keeping the panto spirit alive this Christmas with physically distanced panto promenade Oh Yes We Are!

In line with many other theatres, Perth Theatre has been forced to postpone its traditional panto Cinderella. Cinderella will now go to the ball for Christmas 2021.

But, the panto goes on, as Perth’s much-loved panto dame Barrie Hunter is inviting audiences in their social bubbles on a Christmas adventure through Perth Theatre in Oh Yes We Are! - A Quest for Long Lost Light and Laughter. These small audience groups will join panto characters as they progress through a series of scenes in different parts of the theatre. The show will also be available in live broadcast format so that people who can’t make it to Perth Theatre will have the opportunity to enjoy panto live in their living rooms.

Barrie Hunter who is writing as well as starring in the show said:

“As sad and disappointing as it is to postpone Cinderella until 2021, it is of course the right decision, but I’m delighted that Perth Theatre is going ahead with our alternative festive offering, Oh Yes We Are! The audience will be taken on a magical journey, meet some panto characters (good and not-so-good!) along the way, and help them on their quest to find the Light and Laughter that’s been missing of late. It’ll be lovely to be back in the room with an audience again-we’ve all missed that - oh yes we have!”

Cinderella ticket holders will be able to hold on to their tickets for panto 2021, and are being contacted by the Perth Theatre Ticketing Services team with an early booking opportunity for Oh Yes We Are!  Capacity for this panto promenade is strictly limited due to physical distancing with only 1500 tickets for the live performances available across the run. A live broadcast version will be available for those who aren’t able to attend in person, as well as those that might usually attend in larger groups, or if COVID-19 restrictions affect the live performances.

Oh Yes We Are! goes on sale on Thursday 1 October with early booking for Cinderella ticket holders on Wednesday 30 September.

Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre are also planning an autumn programme of theatre, music and community events with the people of Perth at its heart which includes a mix of live and recorded online broadcasts and local activities.

The season starts on Tuesday 22 September with the broadcast premiere of new musical Romantics Anonymous performed live on stage at Bristol Old Vic. Funny, tender and painfully awkward, Romantics Anonymous is a delicious love story about breaking the mould and finding the courage to be happy.

Music will once again ring out in Perth Concert Hall as Nicola Benedetti joins Scottish Chamber Orchestra to perform Bruch’s beloved Violin Concerto No 1. The performance will be broadcast online on Thursday 24 September.

The people of Perth will share their creativity with their communities during the weekend of 3 and 4 October as part of Fun Palaces. From gardening tips to language lessons, it’s a chance for anyone who knows anything about anything to share their skills.

Perth Theatre is hosting an online ‘stage’ called a Zoom Palace as part of this weekend of events and has already signed up Pete Wishart MP who’ll be teaching the introduction to Runrig’s classic version of Loch Lomond on keyboard, Perth panto dame Barrie Hunter will give a lesson in panto dame make-up and local poet Jim Mackintosh will perform a specially written poem. Other participants include actor Andy Gray, Emma Neck, Victoria Beesley and members of Perth Youth Theatre. Everyone can get involved in the run up to the weekend by decorating and lighting up a window in their home.

Perth Concert Hall is also working on putting in place a programme of physically distanced performances for when restrictions on live performance are lifted. Government guidelines permitting, the concert hall hopes to renew its classical programme with performances by Scottish Opera, Steven Osborne and The RSNO in late October and early November. Perth Theatre is working on a touring play to rural venues. More information will be released as Government guidelines develop.  

Chief Executive Nick Williams said:

“Everyone at Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre has been desperate to get back to presenting live performances in our buildings and we know our audiences are missing this. Whilst there are still many challenges and physical distancing makes the finances very difficult, we are delighted to have found a way for live performances to return to Perth. We take the health and safety of our audiences, staff and artists extremely seriously and will only proceed when permitted to do so. We are working hard on our processes to make sure everyone is kept safe. But we are hoping to be able to present some performances this autumn and offer some Christmas cheer after a very difficult year.”

Commenting on the potential return of live classical music to Perth Concert Hall, James Waters, creative director for classical music, said:

“We have had fantastic support from our loyal classical audience while the hall has been closed. We look forward to being able to welcome audiences back into Perth Concert Hall to rekindle the feeling of community which only attendance at a live event can give.  Through the closure we have been working intensively not just internally but also with concert halls across Britain to ensure that we reopen in the very safest circumstances for our audiences as soon as guidelines allow.”

Popular community singing group Virtual Voices, the Zoom incarnation of Horsecross Voices continues to meet weekly as does Little Stars online weekly music, movement and creative play workshops for the under 5’s. 

And, there is still an opportunity for young people to join one of the theatre youth groups three online projects. Young people aged 13 to 18 are teaming up with their contemporaries at Hidden Route Theatre Company in Dundee for Tay2 - weekly Zoom workshops leading to an online performance. Those aged 9 – 12 are developing their performance skills in weekly Zoom workshops for an online performance of Gargantua, Carl Grose’s hilarious comedy about a couple who give birth to a giant baby. Age 5 – 8s are developing their storytelling and performance skills in Giant!, weekly Zoom workshops to create a brand new online show that will be the curtain-raiser for Gargantua.

Public performances by these theatre youth groups will take place online during w/c 30 November.

Horsecross Arts is supported by Creative Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust. Funding for the autumn programme and community activities comes from The Gannochy Trust, and from Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund.

Wednesday 16 September 2020