ACTOR Greg Powrie is back in Inverness for panto season this year — though you might find it hard to recognise him.
Powrie last appeared at the Eden Court as an Ugly Sister two years ago in Cinderella.
This year he is back as the dame in Sleeping Beauty, and he explained what it is he loves about playing dame and panto in general.
"I am playing Nanny Knot who is a larger than life Mary Poppins and is nanny to everyone — not many people get away without a cuddle from Nanny Knot — particularly King Cuthbert!" he said.
"Dame is a great character to play — as Nanny Knot I have a lot of costume changes during the show which will be exhausting, but it is worth it to hear the laughter from the audience when they see each elaborate outfit."
The panto dame is the very heart of the panto — big, bold and brash and over the top in everything she does. She is invariably in pursuit of a male — often an unsuspecting member of the audience who will be flirted with from the stage, or sometimes even invited to join in the action.
"Although it is a bit of a cliché I think what makes panto special is the fact that it is, in a lot of cases, the only time of the year that families go to the theatre together," Powrie continued.
"One of the funniest bits is always the ‘stooge’ — the dad that has been nominated by the family to get up on stage and be humiliated. Kids always love seeing their dad humiliated in front of a large audience.
"I love the bit when the audience realise that the stooge is about to be picked and you see hundreds of grown men sink as low as possible into their seats — as if that will save them!"
Iain Lauchlan, creative director of Imagine Theatre, producers of the Eden Court panto, and experienced panto dame in his own right, has his own take on the dame’s appeal.
"The panto dame is not a drag queen — a true panto dame must obviously be a man in a dress with over the top make-up and costumes unlike anything a real woman would wear— that is where a lot of the humour comes from," he said.
Sleeping Beauty runs from Tuesday 3rd December 2013 to Sunday 5th January 2014 at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, and tickets are available now from the box office on 01463 234 234 or via the website at www.eden-court.co.uk