Research for this year’s Grant Stott festival frolic had the panto king delving through the caverns of one of the city’s most loved independent cinemas.
And instead of skeletons in the closet of the Dominion cinema, the former Forth 1 DJ discovered a treasure trove of cinematography memorabilia perfect to set the scene of his festival show, Double Feature – a comedic cinematic caper by Phil Differ.
In a nod to the Morningside institution Grant and co-star Andy Gray shot a short film re-telling the history of the landmark building.
The clip, which is being screened ahead of films currently showing at the cinema, takes a meander through the movie magic of the past – starting in 1938, when it first opened.
“I think Edinburgh should take great pride in the fact it has a cinema like the Dominion,” said Mr Stott. “When I tell people that we’ve been working with them, the mere mention of the Dominion and people’s faces light up – there’s a genuine delight in what they offer, a unique cinema experience.
“There is something special about going to a family-run business venture like the Dominion, especially seeing how they have moved with the times.”
Nearly 80 years since it first opened, the cinema has welcomed stars from across the decades, including cinema royalty such as Cary Grant, Ewan McGregor, Alan Rickman, George Clooney, Dame Judi Dench and Sigourney Weaver.
Designed by Thomas Bowhill Gibson, the B-listed building has been passed down through the family, now in its fourth generation, with Lesley Cameron taking the director’s chair.
And she is delighted to have helped set the scene for their Fringe show. “We are happy to be involved in this project. Grant and Andy are an Edinburgh institution in themselves, performing in the panto every year – they’re so loved, and sharing this experience with them has been very exciting.”
An outing to the cosy home-like screens is etched in the memories of many locals and it is that nostalgic leap into viewers’ movie memories that Grant and Andy hope to capture in their Fringe show.
The action features around two friends as they clear out their old local cinema and in the process they re-create scenes from their favourite movies.
“The play features films like the Magnificent Seven, Jaws, Star Wars – all these well known movies from over the years,” Grant explained. “It becomes a bit of a playground – the inner child of the characters come out in the way they talk about these films.
“But this is also a very Edinburgh play – it is a very Edinburgh production for Edinburgh people as we’ve worked with the writer, Phil, to add in and change bits here and there to make it relevant to a local audience.”
Double Feature, directed by Ryan Dewar and Andy Gray, will play at the Rose Theatre, the former Charlotte Baptist Chapel on Rose Street which has been converted to become Gilded Balloon’s first Fringe venue in the New Town. “It’s a great new venue with a very Scottish feel to it – perfect for this production,” added Mr Stott.