We will have panto, oh yes we will!

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With a swish of a fairy godmother’s wand Oban will have panto this year – Oh yes, we will!

Despite Covid restrictions on packed theatre audiences (Boo!),  pantomime enthusiasts are keen to not let the virus spoil all our festive cheer.

Spotlight Musical Theatre Company, who last Christmas brought Camelot to the Corran Halls stage, have got together with Oban’s Phoenix Cinema to put on a December screening of its filmed version of its 2015 panto hit Puss In Boots, by Ben Crocker.

Spotlight’s Kevin Baker said: ‘We are determined not to let the Grinch that is Covid, steal Christmas.’

There will be screenings on Saturday December 12 at 2.30pm and on Sunday December 13 at 1pm and 4pm. Tickets, priced £2, will go on sale soon via the cinema’s website at www.obanphoenix.com and the panto crew are hoping to pack in as big a safe crowd as possible to each of the shows.  Sticking to current Covid rules, one adult can take up to six under 12s.

‘We filmed the 2015 show back then as a way of helping us analyse our performance but our man Steevie Day did such a good job of editing it that we have an oven-ready, audience-ready version of the panto we can put on for 2020.

‘It won’t have the same atmosphere as a live panto – we’ve had to take out the community singing – but there will be members of the cast in costume at the screenings acting as ushers so we can make it as much fun as we can for everyone, keeping it safe at the same time. Puss In Boots will be a purr-fect festive treat,’ added Mr Baker.

Puss in Boots tells the tale of penniless Jack Miller and his faithful cat, Puss. Jack falls for the beautiful Princess Esmerelda but the wicked ogre Grimgrab has plans to wed her himself.  He employs the services of bad fairy Pernicia to oversee her kidnapping by Jack’s hapless brothers Jasper and Jethro.  Luckily Pernicia’s sister, the good fairy Priscilla, is never far away to ensure things don’t get too out of hand.  Attempting to help, but often unknowingly hindering Jack and Puss, are Queen Wendy, King Wally and Bobbie the Royal Page.

Two of the 30-strong cast from 2015 who will not be at the cinema for next month’s special screenings will be Mr Baker’s daughter Katie who played Puss Without Boots and John Robinson, who was one of the ‘village idiots’ – the pair have since married and are now living in South Korea.

Also staging a bit of seasonal shenanigans of its own will be The Rockfield Centre, which will be challenging friends, workmates and families in the community to come up with their own five-minute home video homage to the wonder that is pantomime.

Whether it is recreating a favourite panto scene, or cramming the whole plot into just a few minutes, telling cheesy jokes or dressing up ultra-glam as the Dame – anything goes, but remember it has to be suitable for a family audience, says the centre’s arts co-ordinator Fee Shaw.

‘I can’t wait to see what people come up with! I am hoping we get the same levels of enthusiasm, and a little craziness, as we did with our Eurovision alternative Obanvision earlier in the year and that the good folk of Oban will come together virtually to show how resilient this community is,’ she added.

Entries of five minutes max must be emailed to arts@therockfieldcentre.org.uk by December 10.

Caption: The 2015 Puss in Boots cast. Photograph: Debbie Day.