Glasgow Panopticon prepares for first panto in 78 years

Cast members of Aladdin being performed at the Panoptican theatre. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Cast members of Aladdin being performed at the Panoptican theatre. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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GLASGOW’S historic Panopticon music hall is gearing up for a new production of Aladdin - the first panto since the building closed almost 80 years ago.

Aladdin is being staged over the course of two weekends this month to raise funds for The Friends of Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust SCIO.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The trust is responsible for the management and conservation of this atmospheric A listed space which is due to celebrate its 160th birthday later in 2017.

The cast includes award-winning cabaret performer and one of vaudeville’s darkest darlings John Celestus, the beloved but overlooked Auntie Effie and music hall favorite Florrie Bow Wow.

There’s also a special performance from tribal fusion bellydance troupe Sarasvati as the Spirits of Magic and while we’re talking spirits, there may be a touch of the Krankies in there too as writer and director Grant F Kidd reveals: “I am delighted that I was asked to bring Panto back to the Panopticon after a 78-year absence.

“Aladdin is specifically written with the Panopticon in mind and uses music hall as its inspiration. Of course Music hall always has been the inspiration for panto with the stars of music hall being brought into panto to perform their signature acts there.

“Panto is a major part of Christmas in Scotland and I am delighted that we are able to provide a panto experience in Glasgow for such a small ticket price so that even those who are having to be careful this Christmas still have the chance to bring the whole family along.”

Built in 1857 by Thomas Gildard and H.M. Robert Macfarlane, The Britannia Panopticon has hosted some of the biggest names on the Music hall circuit.

In 1906 Stan Laurel made his first stage appearance there on amateur night. In that same year A. E. Pickard bought the building and changed its name to the Panopticon. He also undertook some major works, installing a freak show, a roof top carnival, a waxworks and installed an indoor zoo in the basement.

The Panopticon was one of the first buildings in Glasgow to become powered by electricity and one of the first cinemas in Scotland. It closed in 1938 when it was sold to a tailors and converted to a workshop.

It is currently being conserved by The Friends of Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust SCIO and it is now protected as a category A listed building.

Aladdin will run at the Panopticon on Glasgow’s Trongate over the next two weekends, with a special ‘adult’s only performance taking place on Friday 18th.

Tickets can be purchased from Tickets Scotland.