HE’S smiling but he’s no happy...” - If only Edinburgh’s favourite panto dame Allan Stewart had a pound for every time he’s cracked that old chestnut.
This year, Allan himself is smiling and very happy. He has every reason to be, having just signed a new six year contract that will see the 66-year-old actor and comedian starring in King’s pantos until at least 2021, by which time he’ll be 72.
“It’s very scary to think that I first did panto at the King’s in 1989, the year my son David was born. I played a bad robber in Babes in the Woods,” he admits.
This year is Allan’s twenty-first consecutive King’s panto and his nineteenth playing dame, and he is delighted, “It was 1997 that I first played Dame. Although I didn’t know I would still be playing in the King’s panto 20 years later, I did know that my days of being a ‘man’ on the panto stage were over.”
He explains, “I loved playing dame and still do. My dame character was my Aunty May - I had created her for my TV series in the 70s. So I’ll get my zimmer ready for the next few years.”
Allan first played Aunty May in Jack and the Beanstalk in 1997.
He steps back into the role in a brand new version of the much loved fairytale this week.
Doomed to sell his trusty cow, Jack must fight to save the beautiful Princess, outwit the evil giant and win the hand of the girl he loves.
Expect laughs, music, dazzling special effects, magic beans and bundles of audience participation as Allan, as Dame Trott, is joined by King’s regulars Andy Gray as Farmer Hector, Grant Stott as Fleshcreep, Greg Barrowman as Jack Trot and newcomer Rachel Flynn as the Princess.
“I do love Jack and Beanstalk as it’s such a great straightforward story,” says Allan.
“The kids know exactly what is going to happen in the story. So it’s our job to make it surprising and exciting.
“ Once again I really believe we have a cracker of a show this year, although I must be honest and say that Cinderella is my all-time favourite, which coincidentally is next year’s subject.”
As he prepares for the next six years, Allan reflects that despite having performed all over the world, there is nowhere he would rather be during the festive period than the Capital.
“I know that it sounds as if I’m sucking up to the Edinburgh audiences but when you walk on stage and you hear that roar you immediately feel at home,” he says.
“My first experience of theatre audiences was in Glasgow and they were great, but I truly don’t think the Edinburgh crowd can be beaten.
“I have always felt that you need to warm up an audience down south, but in Edinburgh they are with you right from the start. I love them.”
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