Panto Rehearsals at Scotland’s Oldest Working Theatre


It’s nearly panto time… oh no it isn’t – ooooh yes it is!

And this year’s festive extravaganza at The Theatre Royal, Dumfries is not to be missed.

DGWGO have a family ticket up for grabs in our competition area – click here to enter

In celebration of their centenary year, The Guild of Players are staging a world premiere of Chris Belford’s Cinderella, specially written to mark the landmark anniversary.

The show, which runs from December 4th -14th, with matinee performances on Saturday, December 7th and Sunday, December 8th, is the last production at The Theatre Royal before the historic building – Scotland’s oldest working theatre – is closed for a major redevelopment.

With a cast of local, weel-kent performers, Cinderella is directed by Lesley Woodhouse, with music by Doug Carroll and some magical support from acclaimed international artist, Donald Urquhart….DGWGO was given the chance last night to pop along and meet the cast, have a tour of the set and talk to the writer and Director of the panto!


Chris Belford the Writer told DGWGO – “I re-joined the Guild of Players last year after an absence of 12 years to play the lead in The Importance of Being Earnest when one of the performers withdrew during rehearsals, it was great being back on stage but I was shocked at how much audiences had dropped. a show now runs for 4 performances compared to 6 when I last did them. From this I found myself back in pantoland with The Queen of Hearts, a panto written in 1965. 

Rabbie watches over the stage
Rabbie watches over the stage

I’ve also used Facebook to promote the show and I am finding we are reaching a lot more people. Hopefully the show will be a success and the theatre can develop from here. This is the last show at the theatre before it closes for some much needed work. As the oldest working theatre in Scotland it is important that it has a high profile and can showcase the many talented people who work behind the scenes. “

Lesley Woodhouse the Panto Director this year told DGWGO – “Cinderella will be the final production in the Theatre Royal in its current state. Work will begin in February to extend and renovate the current building and make use of the adjoining buildings”

100 years ago, the members of the theatre, ‘bought’ it and formed the Guild Of Players. This group of volunteers has run the theatre ever since.

Lesley added “My husband Chris and I have been members of the theatre for 25 years. We met at the theatre 25 years ago and acted in many productions together. We met again in 2005 and got married in 2008″

We decided that the theatre needed something special to celebrate their centenary. Chris has written a number of pieces for local and national newspapers, but never a pantomime.

We started work last December and agreed that we would write it to suit our stage and with some actors in mind.

It has been an arduous process, but we have been well supported by the committee of the theatre and local businesses.

Tickets are available here


 Tickets are available here

The show runs from Wednesday 4th December-Saturday 14th December. The 7th and 8th are matinees only.

Tickets are £7.50 and available from the Mid Steeple box office.”

While meeting the cast I got to chat to Prince Charming, Bethany MacLean who is very excited about the show , I also spoke to Dumfries and Galloway life Magazine’s Very Own Andrea Thompson , who really seemed to be throwing herself into the part of Queen Charming . I also got to chat to the Lovely Laura Hill , who is one of the Castle Guards , and she was looking forward to getting into costume and really feeling the part ! Seeing all the work that goes on Backstage it made me realise just how much effort this wee team are putting into this Panto , Months of Rehearsal , Lots of singing Practice and being shouted at , Stress levels at a high ! But for those 10 days in December they will bring joy to many many folk , young and old. One of the Best Childhood Christmas memories I have is going to the panto and seeing all the excitement on stage !

So if you are looking for the Perfect Family Christmas night out then you should get along to see CINDERELLA at the Theatre Royal !


The Team and Cast of Cinderella would like to give a massive thank you to all the people and Businesses that are supporting the Panto by Donating raffle Prizes to be won every night that the show runs for !

[below – a few of the main cast ]

Cinderella – Bernadette McDermott

Prince Charming – Bethany MacLean

Buttons – John Woodhouse

Uggs (The Ugly Sisters) – Sandy McDougall and Andrew Twigg

Puss – Blaise McMinn

Wicked Step Mother – Anne Aldridge

Fairy Godmother – Anne Barbour

King Charming – Sean Barbour

Queen Charming – Andrea Thompson

Professor – Tom Cuddihy

Beast – Siouxsie Robertson

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