PANTO DAME

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Kenny Smith

Castlemilk River City star Gary La­mont knows there’s noth­ing like a dame.

And that’s most cer­tainly the case for his cur­rent role, as Gary is ap­pear­ing as Mrs Bird­s­eye in Trea­sure Is­land at the Pavil­ion The­atre in Glas­gow.

It’s a real change for the for­mer Castlemilk High pupil, who ap­pears as Rob­bie Fraser each Tues­day in the BBC Scot­land soap.

Gary said: “I’m brand new to the Pavil­ion fam­ily panto this year, as it’s such a great the­atre, first and fore­most, and it’s so handy be­ing right in the mid­dle of town.

“But I’m re­ally long in the tooth when it comes to do­ing panto - I’ve done them the length and breadth of the coun­try, in Ar­broath, Dum­fries, Ayr, Ed­in­burgh and Greenock last year.

“It’s such a buzz, and that’s ul­ti­mately why per­form­ers do it, year on year. It’s one of the hard­est jobs you’re ever likely to do, though, with the en­ergy lev­els it takes, and you need to have good stamina for it.

“But it’s such a laugh too, and there’s times when you stand on stage and won­der, ‘Am I re­ally get­ting paid to be here and en­joy my­self so much?’

“I’ve been on tele­vi­sion for a few years now, but it’s great when you get back to the the­atre.”

The live na­ture of ap­pear­ing on stage makes the job fun and a chal­lenge for the cast.

Gary laughed: “As a per­former, it’s the scary part, do­ing it live, and that’s the thing that I miss with the sched­ule I have with River City. I don’t get back to do as much the­atre through­out the year.

“There’s al­ways an el­e­ment of ap­pre­hen­sion about what’s go­ing to hap­pen, and you worry about what your re­sponse will be if peo­ple shout out, and hope you’re go­ing to be funny enough!

“Last week I did some au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion, and be­cause I’m wear­ing a mas­sive frock, one cheeky beg­gar had a look up! Thank­fully, I had a big pair of bloomers on.

“The thing then is how you re­act to it and although you’ve got 1000 things in your head that you could say, you’ve only got a sec­ond to pick one, and hope it’s the right thing that gets a laugh.

“The other great thing is we get the kid­dies along, who won’t know who I am be­cause they don’t watch River City, but they ac­cept me as this big, buxom lady. Then there’s oth­ers, the grannies, the mums and the dads, who know who I am, and you get a lot of warmth from that.”

As well as out­ra­geous dresses, Gary’s also got to wear an over-the-top fruity hat.

Gary laughed: “I ac­tu­ally woke up this morn­ing, think­ing my neck’s quite sore! What I’ve learned when wear­ing it is you don’t turn your head too quickly to the side, and I think I’m start­ing to de­velop mus­cles in my neck, where I never knew I had any!”

In the cast with Garyy are River Cityy co- star Stephen Pur­don ( Shell­suit Bob), alongg with for­mer star Hol­lyy Jack (Ni­cola Brodie), as well as for­mer Pop Idol win­ner Michelle McManus, ra­dio star Cat Har­vey, and co­me­dian Johnny Mac.

“It’s fan­tas­tic,” said Gary, “be­cause I’ve pre­vi­ously worked with ev­ery­one in the cast, apart from one, in one ca­pac­ity or another, which is just amaz­ing.

“Ev­ery day, I’m go­ing to work with my pals, and the best part is I get to see friends who I don’t of­ten get the chance to catch up with in per­son. I’m hav­ing the best time!

“There’s such a friendly spirit - ev­ery­one is send­ing each other pic­tures of our Christ­mas trees, and what we’re hav­ing for din­ner on our days off.

“I am so ex­cited to be per­form­ing on­stage with such a tal­ented cast.”

Gary will re­turn to shoot­ing River City in Fe­bru­ary, and will then be back on­stage at the Pavil­ion in the sum­mer in mu­si­cal Please Stay.

He added: “When we star ted re­hearsals for the panto, there was a two week over­lap with the end of the last River City block, which was the most bizarre ex­pe­ri­ence - I’d wake up in the most bizarre headspace, try­ing to re­mem­ber my lines as a panto dame, or as a hair­dresser!

But it was a lovely cou­ple of weeks - and a great way to down tools and then go and try on a dress!

“After we fin­ish the panto, I’ve got five weeks be­tween it fin­ish­ing and go­ing back to River City, so I’m go­ing to go to Aus­tralia to recharge my bat­ter­ies.

“After that, I’m go­ing to fly on to Amer­ica and meet up with Holly Jack in Los An­ge­les, as she’s go­ing over there to study.

“We were ac­tu­ally in Glas­gow yes­ter­day, hav­ing a cof­fee, and even though it was freez­ing cold, we were just think­ing about what it’ll be like in LA!”

Gary ap­pears in Trea­sure Is­land at the Pavil­ion The­atre in Glas­gow un­til Jan­uary 18.

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