Arts News!

Capital Theatres re-emerging from the Darkness

Capital Theatres Re-opening Plans!

Capital Theatres who operate The Festival Theatre, The King’s Theatre and The Studio in Edinburgh have confirmed they will open there doors from 29 June 2021 welcoming the first in-person audiences to their venues in 15 months.

Audiences can look forward to series of socially distanced performances over the summer alongside enhanced COVID safety measures, working towards a full programme of events from the autumn onwards.

Speaking to Scotsgay Arts Fiona Gibson, CEO of Capital Theatres said:

“After closing our doors on 16 March and ‘going dark’ for longer than any of us would ever have imagined; we’re delighted to be able to welcome our audiences back into our theatres. We’ve worked closely with Scottish Government and the wider theatre industry to ensure that audiences can feel safe, comfortable and secure as they return to the joy of live performance. Our summer programme, using socially distanced seating plans, will build the confidence of audience, staff and artists alike as we look forward to a full programme of events this autumn, bringing you all the thrilling variety and entertainment which Capital Theatres is famous for.”

The Donmar’s Production of Blindness

The Festival Theatre will open on 29 June with Blindness, a theatrical sound installation from the Donmar Warehouse with the voice of Juliet Stephenson. After critically acclaimed sell-out runs in London and New York, Edinburgh audiences will experience this unique event on the Festival Theatre stage itself.  In July the Festival Theatre will welcome  Zog; Caitlin Moran: More Than A Woman LIVE!; Silent Cinema: A Night of Laurel & Hardy; Rosie Kay: Absolute Solo II; all on socially distanced seating plans in line with the latest government guidance.  Looking to August Scottish Opera will return to the Festival Theatre with Falstaff as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The Grand old Lady of Leven Street, The King’s Theatre will reopen with spy thriller A Splinter of Ice starring Oliver Ford Davies (Game of Thrones, Star Wars) as Graham Greene, Stephen Boxer (The Crown) as Kim Philby running from Tuesday 13th July. The kings will then return to its full capacity for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me On A Sunday starring Jodi Prenger running from Tuesday 14th September.

Both The Festival and The King’s will be fully programmed from September onwards. Highlights include Grease; The Play That Goes Wrong; Dirty Dancing; Bedknobs and Broomsticks; Six; Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; National Theatre of Scotland’s Orphans and The Enemy; Stewart Lee and just announced The Cher Show.

The Magic of Panto will Return to the Kings!

Looking ahead to the end of the year, Capital Theatres have confirmed the return of the much-loved Christmas shows; The King’s Panto Sleeping Beauty there is no word on casting as yet but its expected Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Jordan Young will all return. The Festival theatre will welcome Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker as there festive treat.

Capital Theatres have yet to announce the programme for The Studio but hopefully it too will open its doors soon. After the longest dark period in history, it’s wonderful to see the biggest theatres in Edinburgh and indeed Scotland emerging with exciting plans and a programme that truly has something on offer for everyone.

For more information on all productions and to book tickets go to: www.capitaltheatres.com

Arts News!

2021 Edinburgh Festivals Return:

From the darkness comes light for the Festival City:

After the longest shut down of the Scottish Arts Industry in history, as we all move slowly but surely to unlocking and embracing a better summer ahead. Two of the Edinburgh festivals have announced there plans to return in August 2021. It’s important to acknowledge these won’t be the festivals of old that we have come to love and cherish, these will be festivals for the covid world. We must embrace them as we chart our course back to full normality for our Theatres and the arts industry. So, let’s check out what’s been announced thus far.

The Edinburgh International Festival 2021:

artist impression of the temporary pavillion at Edinburgh University South Bridge

The EIF team have announced a reimagined Festival for 2021, marking the return of live performance to Scotland’s capital city after over a year of silenced theatres and concert halls. Taking place from 7 to 29 August, the 2021 International Festival will use bespoke, temporary outdoor pavilions in iconic, easily accessible spaces throughout the city to safely reunite artists and audiences to rediscover the magic of live performance.

Specially constructed temporary outdoor pavilions, found at three locations including Edinburgh Park and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad, will feature covered concert stages and socially distanced seating to create a beautiful setting for audiences to safely enjoy live music, opera and theatre once more.

The health and safety of the entire Festival community is at the heart of the announced plans for this year’s festival. The EIF are working with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and other relevant authorities to implement appropriate Covid safety measures. These will include shorter performances with no intervals, physical distancing, regular cleaning and contactless ticketing. They will publish full details of security and safety measures in the coming months.

While the EIF are looking forward to the prospect of bringing the Festival City to life once more, they appreciate that not everyone will be able to attend performances in person this year. To ensure that everyone can enjoy a slice of the magic, wherever they are in the world, they will release a selection of high-quality streamed performances, free of charge, during each week of the Festival.

Since Edinburgh’s summer festivals in 2020 were officially cancelled a year ago, The EIF have received extraordinary support from so many people. As Festival Director Fergus Linehan says, “We are hugely grateful to the artists who have agreed to come on this journey with us, the stakeholders, donors, and sponsors who have stood by us through a tough year and our audiences who have cheered us along throughout. We look forward to sharing full details of the programme in early June.”

Full details of the 2021 programme, which spans opera, orchestral and chamber music, theatre and contemporary music, will be announced on Wednesday 2 June. Priority booking for International Festival members opens on Tuesday 1 June before general booking opens on Friday 11 June

For more details go to: www.eif.co.uk

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2021:

The Fringe Returns!

The Fringe Society have announced that show registration for Fringe 2021 will open on Wednesday 05 May. Artists and venues will be able to register Fringe shows right up until the end of the festival. The Fringe’s world-class programme will be available to browse and book at edfringe.com, with tickets going on sale for audiences in early summer.

As Scotland navigates its roadmap out of lockdown, much is still unknown about what the Fringe will look like this August. However, a range of scenarios are being prepared for, from socially distanced live events to digital offerings. 

The Fringe Society is supporting artists and audiences to find and book work online across a range of platforms, including the brand-new Fringe Player. This online platform aims to bring some festival magic into homes across the world, while providing a secure platform for artists, companies and venues to host their shows. The platform is available to any registered 2021 Fringe show or venue to use if they wish.

Any live performance registered as part of the 2021 Fringe will be expected to adhere to public health guidance from the Scottish Government. Audiences can search, browse and buy tickets to both online and in-person work through edfringe.com. More details on individual shows and Fringe 2021 will be available in early summer.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Fringe Society, said:

“We’re delighted to be able to open registration for 2021. Of course, we’re still very much in planning mode as we await further updates from the Scottish Government, but this feels like a hugely positive step in the right direction.

“Through the work being created across the various digital platforms, including the Fringe Player, artists have a brilliant opportunity to reach audiences and communities all over the world. I look forward to seeing how our Fringe creatives use these platforms in 2021 and beyond.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place from 06 – 30 August 2021. For more details go to: www.edfringe.com

Final Thoughts,

The announcement from the EIF and Fringe follows on from The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo who released tickets for sale for this year’s production in October of 2020. The arena at Edinburgh castle will be socially distanced with additional safe checks in place. There is no word on their programme as yet, however as soon as we get word, we shall pass it right along.

These announcements are a huge sign of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and while these planned events will be nowhere near the traditional events, we have come love during August in the festival city. It’s a starting point, a starting point that’s a long time in coming.

Arts News!

Seyi Omooba and the Color Purple – The Verdict

On February 4th 2021 we published an article detailing our thoughts on the Tribunal of Seyi Omooba vs. Curve Theatre Leicester and her former agents Global Artists who claimed unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment on the grounds of her religious beliefs. 

Seyi Omooba and Curve’s The Color Purple

Omooba was originally cast to play the lead role of “Celie” in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer prize-winning 1982 novel of the same name. Telling the story of Celie, a poor, young, sexually abused African-American woman in the deep south of the United States in the 1930s. Celie discovers love and a close, physical relationship with a female singer, named Shug Avery.

Following a transparent audition and casting process, Omooba was given the lead role. Prior to rehearsals commencing actor Aaron Lee Lambert retweeted a Facebook post from 2014 that revealed Omooba’s homophobic and bigoted view on homosexuality. It called into question the hypocrisy of her playing an openly gay role on stage with such homophobic beliefs.

The Original Facebook post later retweeted.

Following a massive public backlash, Omooba refused to take back her comments and stood by them. The Curve was left with no choice and informed Omooba she could either resign from the production or be dismissed. She choose the later, then with the backing of Christian Concern a bigoted “Christian charity” co founded by her father, Pastor Ade Omooba launched legal action. Seeking £128,000 in damages, lost earnings, potential lost earnings and emotional distress. Interestingly in the final day of the hearing Omooba’s team reduced the total claim to £71,000

Following a week long sitting the Panel at the Central London Employment Tribunal have rejected all of Omooba’s claims in full. In a written judgement, it concluded it was “the effect of the adverse publicity from [the 2014 post’s] retweet, without modification or explanation, on the cohesion of the cast, the audience’s reception, the reputation of the producers and “the good standing and commercial success” of the production, that were the reasons why she was dismissed.”

Taking  the harassment claim into account, it said: “In the view of the tribunal Mr Stafford [Chris Stafford, chief executive of Leicester Theatre Trust] did not have the purpose of violating the claimant’s dignity or creating an intimidating or humiliating environment for her. His purpose was to save the production.”

Miss Omooba had claimed the character’s sexuality was ambiguous and she would have refused the role if she had considered her gay

But this was further rejected by the tribunal, with the panel commenting: “She had taken part in a similar production, she had the script, and knowing that a lesbian relationship was at least one interpretation, she should have considered much earlier whether a red line was to be crossed.”

The panel also went on to reject Ms Omooba’s demands for compensation for loss of earnings, future losses and reputational damage as a result of her agency contract being terminated.

“There is no financial loss because she would not have played the part,” the panel said.”There is no loss of opportunity to enhance her reputation by performing, because she would not have played the part.”If there is damage to her reputation, it was not caused by being dropped from the production but by an unconnected person’s tweeting… of her Facebook post and the outcry resulting from that.”

Christopher Milsom QC, representing Global Artists, described Omooba as “the author of her own misfortune.” The tribunal’s judgment said that: “there is no breach of contract because the claimant was in prior repudiatory breach…the contract was empty because the claimant would not have played the part, and her conduct, pulling out at a late stage, had she not been dropped when she was, would have wrecked the production.”

Andrea Williams, Christian Concerns chief executive, said: “We’re disappointed by the judgement and Seyi is considering her options for appeal.” Even still with her career in ruins she is considering pursuing further action.

The Curve’s Chief executive Chris Stafford and Artistic director Nikolai foster released a joint statement saying “we now look forward to drawing a line under this painful chapter and focusing our energies on how we rebuild our theatre after the pandemic” going on to say “we do not condone any negativity Seyi Omooba has been subjected to and we respectfully ask anyone in support of this ruling to be kind and respectful in acknowledging this victory for Curve and Celie”.

Final Thoughts:

The Curve quite simply has to be commended; they took on the challenge of not only defending themselves but challenging homophobia in what is the most diverse industry on earth. For too long, religious beliefs and convictions have been used as justification for espousing hate.

This wasn’t about free speech; Omooba believes her beliefs outweighed that of those she hurt with her comments. She is fully entitled to her thoughts and opinions and to share them in the public forum. There is however consequences to those actions and she simply didn’t want to face up to them.

Seyi Omooba is an incredibly talented and gifted musical performer and the Curve team are correct it is a time to be Kind and respectful and there is much to be learned for everyone involved in this case.

For now a bench mark has been set, Theatre remains the last truly uncensored and creative space where being who and what you are irrespective of colour, class, religion, sexuality or gender is no barrier. However maybe being honest in the characters we are willing to play and comparing that character to our personal beliefs is the core of the issue. Had Omooba done that in the first place this entire situation may never have happened.

Brett Herriot

Editor.

Arts News!

Seyi Omooba and the Color Purple

The Arts in Court!

Even during the ongoing lockdown and complete closure of our theatres, the theatre industry is still in the news for many reasons. Alongside the battle to survive for the entire industry there is the ongoing story of Actress Seyi Omooba who is suing The Curve Theatre Leicester and her former agents, Michael Garret Associates Ltd (Global Artists) for breach of contract and religious discrimination for a total of £128,000.

Omooba was cast in the lead role of Celie for the 2019 Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome co production of the Musical “The Color Purple” based on Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel famously adapted for the Cinema by Steven Spielberg.

Omooba was successfully cast in the role by the producers following a transparent audition process which would begin rehearsals in late April 2019 with scheduled performances in May and June of that year.

On the 15th March 2019, Aaron Lee Lambert of the “Hamilton” company tweeted a screen shot of Omooba’s tweet from 2014 that laid bare her bigoted homophobic views, which she justifies by her religious Beliefs.

From the publication of that Tweet came the justified public back lash based around one simple question! “How can an openly homophobic actor truly portray an openly gay Character and not see the hypocrisy of that choice?”

That question amongst others were what the producers and production team faced, they gave Omooba the chance to respond and explain, as with all humanity we grow and learn and her thoughts and opinions may well have changed over the 5 year gap of the original tweet and its re-tweet.

Omooba stood by her original tweet and her homophobic belief’s which she again justified by her religious scruples. These beliefs were not shared by the Curve, and she was given the chance to resign from the production. She chose against that and therefore was removed by contract termination. She was also subsequently terminated by her Agents.

Clearly stung by this decision and the ongoing public backlash Omooba backed by Christian Concern (which is governed by her Father Ade Omooba who supports Gay Conversion therapy and unbelievably was awarded the MBE in the Queens Honours) have launched legal proceedings which have led to the ongoing Tribunal currently taking place in London.

Everyone has the inalienable right to their religious beliefs irrespective of what those are even if to others there wrong or against their own personal beliefs. There are many performers in the arts with strong faith; they however don’t use that to espouse homophobic rhetoric.

Many interesting issues have come out of the hearing to date, and here are our thoughts on them and the case thus far:

  • Omooba is justifying her homophobia by way of “this is what the bibles tells me” that is exactly the downfall of her argument. The bible is interpretive, we all interpret it differently. If the bible tells her that homosexuality is wrong (even if legal) she is entitled to that belief. What she isn’t entitled to is to hurt others with that belief which she has done on an epic scale.
  • The Tribunal has revealed that Omooba is claiming £4309 as part of the overall financial tally as this was the figure she would have been paid for the role. Omooba has been offered that sum by the Curve from the moment her contract was terminated. She made the choice not to Invoice the theatre to claim the payment. The offer of that payment remains open to this day. Therefore Seyi why didn’t you invoice for the payment?
  • Omooba has also said in court she hadn’t read the script of the musical and thus didn’t know Celie was a lesbian character. This is interesting; in 2017 Omooba performed the show in a “Concert” production at the Cadogan Hall, London in the role of Nettie. She clearly did this without reading the script or understanding the show entirely.
  • Omooba went on to say, if she had known that Celie was a gay character or it was brought to light during rehearsals that was the creative direction for the character she would have withdrawn from the production. Leaving both the cast and production team high and dry. She defends that by simply saying “that’s why theatre uses “covers” and “alternate” performers. Defence council then said to her in court, this is a most unprofessional method of working. We fully agree with the defence, how many performers would accept a role without reading the script, then finding out it doesn’t match your religious beliefs simply walk away even if that leaves just days before the opening curtain?
  • Alice Walker the author of the source book confirmed in court papers that “Celie” is based on her mother who was open in her sexual attraction to women confirming the character of “Celie” from her creation was homosexual. Therefore it’s somewhat mystifying that Omooba maintains her belief that “Celie” is not a lesbian character.
  • Two expert reports submitted by Omooba by respected director and arts Critic Lloyd Evans and Theologist Dr Martin Parsons were disallowed but can be read in full on the Christian Concern website. We have examined both documents especially Lloyd Evans which is a long winded defence document that delves into the theory of classical Greek drama’s by way of defending Omooba’s homophobia and thus justifying her suitability to play “Celie”. Its therefore clear Omooba maintains her homophobic views and her ability to play any character irrespective of the hypocrisy that might engender.
  • Hypocrisy is the very heart of the issue, the arts especially the theatre has a lifelong and unbreakable bond with the LGBTQI+ community they are often the life blood of one another. This situation is not an attack on a woman of colour, or indeed her incredible talent as an actor and vocalist. Omooba is blinded by religious belief that she simply cannot see she is the walking embodiment of a selfish hypocrite. She is fully allowed to express her belief that homosexuality is wrong, irrespective of how hurtful that is to not only her fellow cast members, the arts industry and indeed the non homophobic world. The fact she can absorb that hurt and still justify she can perform a role of a character she truly and utterly believes is wrong and a sin is sheer hypocrisy.
  • No Matter how good her portrayal of Celie would have been, it would have been a lie to the audience who would have either boycotted the production or worse still turned up to boo her from the stage. The law does protect the right to free speech and Omooba is fully entitled to share her views but she must be willing to accept the consequences of that decision. Something this tribunal shows she isn’t willing to do.
  • Oomba has a red line in her casting choices, she said she would not play a homosexual character due to her religious beliefs. She never informed the Curve or to a certain degree her agents of that decision. She still however accepted the role of Celie which defies logic.

Final Thoughts:

 The tribunal is ongoing until 11th of February, and we at Scotsgay arts hope the court find in favour of the Curve Leicester and Omooba’s former agents. The only person to blame for this situation is Seyi Omooba herself, No one is denying her religious freedoms but she is happy to deny the freedom of human sexuality based on that religious belief, is it really ok for her to say it’s wrong to be homosexual yet whilst being wrong can happily play one of the great LGBTQI+ characters?. Seyi, once your homophobic truths came to light you were then no longer a suitable actor to portray the role of Celie, it really is that simple.

Theatre is a family we all stand by one another when one person hurts we all hurt together, Omooba’s words in that original tweet cut deep but what cuts deeper still is her inability to accept her actions have consequences and these now include costing her the career she so cherished.

In the video posted to youtube by Christian Concern, Omooba says just wants those who are Christian to be able to perform in theatre. Seyi yes they can perform in Theatre but when you spread homophobic hate and defend it by Christianity that isn’t Christian and isn’t in the heart of what Theatre making is all about. 

Have a look at the video from Christian Concern but do remember this is purely one side of the argument; we shall update this article once the verdict comes in. For now however what do you think?

Christian Concern Youtube Video

Arts News!

Andy Gray a reflection.

Andy Gray:

Starting this article hurts, finding the words to sum up one of our countries greatest comics, actors, writers and his crowning achievement King of Pantomimes just a day after his untimely passing was announced still feels surreal and palpably untrue.

On Screen:

As “Chancer” in BBC Scotland’s “City Lights”

Andy Gray is gone at 61 and looking back at his life it’s a rich legacy of man who was born to perform and made the arts world his life. Starting out his career in his native Perth working at Perth Rep and Borderline along with connections to 7:84 and other ground breaking companies of the late 70’s and early 80’s . Andy rose to national promise thanks to his stints on BBC’s Naked Video which led in 1987 to the creation of “Chancer” opposite the Late Gerard Kelly in “City Lights”. Andy also put in spirited cameos in other Comedy Unit productions for the BBC including Rab C Nesbitt. Although the bulk of Grays Career was spent in his true love, the theatre, nothing matched the thrill of a live audience. Andy returned to our Screens in BBC Scotland’s “River City” as the beloved “Pete Galloway” in 2016. It was in River city that viewers got to see the depth of Andy’s acting skill. Although “Pete” had a strong comic element there were powerful scenes as the character battled mental health issues and Andy shone as the consummate actor, tears of laughter replaced with tears of raw emotion.

In the Theatre:

The Cast of ” I Dreamed a Dream”

In the theatre mention the name Andy Gray and instantly people connect him to Pantomime and rightly so, but Andy had a varied career in the theatre including Straight drama, Musicals and classical theatre parts not to mention his stints performing in the Edinburgh Fringe.

Stints at all the major theatres across Scotland beckoned for Andy including “Werewolf” at the Traverse in Edinburgh, a rollicking performance as Nicely Nicely in Kenny Irelands acclaimed 2001 production of Guys and Dolls at the Royal Lyceum opposite his friend Elaine C Smith. 2002 saw Gray team up with his “City Lights” co star Gerrard Kelly for a production of “The Odd Couple” at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews which would then go on to tour the country.

Gray would return to the Royal Lyceum for Kenny Ireland in 2003 for Yasmin Rez’s “Art” performing with James Macpherson and Forbes Masson. Their combined timing was a reflection of perfection in modern theatre.

Later years would see him rack up credits in west end hit “Stones in his pockets” playing opposite his panto partner Allan Stewart. “The Rise and Fall of Little Voice” and “I dreamed a dream” the Susan Boyle musical both with Elaine C Smith along with a spell in “A midsummer’s night dream”. Andy’s pedigree in the theatre will never be matched our indeed surpassed.

On The Fringe:

Publicity Shot for “Kiss Me Honey Honey”

Andy became a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe popping up in 1999 in Theatre Archipelago’s “Communicado” although far from a smash hit success it gave Andy the taste for working in the constraints that the Fringe brings. 2005 saw him begin a long tenure with Gilded Balloon appearing Bob Steiner’s “A limited Run” at the Gilded Balloons Teviot House. It was to the Gilded Balloon in 2013 that Andy would return to team up with his Panto pal Grant Stott for a series of fringe adventures. 2013’s “Kiss me honey honey” written by Philip Meeks which was the runaway success of that year’s festival and returned in 2014. In the 2013 season Andy did double duty also performing in “God Bless Liz Locked” earning plaudits for both. 2015 saw Andy and Grant back in the Gilded Balloon Teviot for the darkly funny “Willie and Sebastian” in which Andy won the Stage Award for performing excellence. 2017 saw the pair move to Gilded Balloons new Space “The Rose Theatre” and there greatest success with “Double Feature” This play truly showcased how the partnership of Gray and Stott had matured working comedy with ease and pathos laden drama with equal skill it was a joy to watch. In 2018 Andy and Grant were scheduled to return to the Rose for Ruaraidh Murray’s “Junkies”. Andy completed one performance only as his diagnosis of blood cancer saw the cancellation of the run. Andy’s fringe adventures spanned over 25 years and the festival will be forever enriched by his contributions.

Pantomime:

The Golden Trio of the King’s Panto during “Mother Goose”

Andy’s true love and the part of his legacy he will be remembered for most is Pantomime.  Especially his long tenure with the King’s Theatre Edinburgh. Taking to the Stage of the King’s first in 1999 playing opposite Allan Stewart’s buttons and Dorothy Paul’s Fairy Godmother in Cinderella it was the start of something uniquely special. The following year local radio and TV personality Grant Stott joined the cast for Dick Whittington and Stewart donned the frock as Dame Aunty May and the Golden Trio was born. 2006 saw the King’s mark its centenary with Cinderella once more gracing the stage as it had 100 years before. The curtain down of this season would see the start of what Andy himself would call “his wilderness years”. Gray would miss 2007’s Goldilocks, 2008’s Aladdin and 2009’s Robinson Crusoe panto’s at the Kings. Panto never left him though during those years appearing in London at the Barbican as Dame for Jonathan Harvey’s Pantomime and in Glasgow King’s panto opposite his old friend Gerard Kelly. Ultimately the King’s Edinburgh was always home and a rejuvenated Andy returned to the Kings in 2010 for Jack and Beanstalk dawning the crown as King Crumble. It was the King’s Edinburgh that Andy would spend the rest of his Pantomime life. 2018 saw the Kings announce Beauty and the Beast as that year’s panto. Andy was announced in the casting, but following his diagnosis, a great deal of soul searching and on the advice of his doctors he reluctantly took the year off. However he made an unscheduled appearance on stage during the curtain call near the end of the run, the raw emotion flowing over the footlights Andy then knew just how much he was loved by the Edinburgh audiences and what he meant to them. It fueled Andy for his comeback to panto in 2019’s Goldilocks and the three bears. Arriving on stage in a glitzy production number adorned with a Top Hat, the show stopped for a sustained standing ovation, Andy beaming in the spotlight, he had come home once more. Alas that’s the lasting memory panto audiences will have of him, that and his ability to latch onto a single word, balloon, banana or umbrella all words that on their own aren’t funny but give them to Andy, comedy joy was created. Andy Gray truly is and always will be the King of the King’s Pantomimes.

 A Personal Reflection:

Andy Gray and Grant Stott performing “Double Feature”

The greatest attribute of Andy Gray was his humanity, love and compassion regardless of how you met him, taxi driver, stage door keeper, fellow performer, journalist or even audience member you felt you knew Andy; he was a friend and a trusted one at that. For me I met Andy several times over the years at Panto and Theatre press nights, sharing many a laugh and glass or two of prosecco. In 2017 I ended up sharing a dressing room with Andy and Grant during that’s years Fringe, I was performing two musicals in rep which ran back to back with Andy and Grants “Double Feature”. The Captivate cast would be well into the second act of our shows when Andy arrived, to take up his space in the dressing room, it was always joyous, nothing got him down and the laughter would ring out as would the odd story of his adventures across his career which the younger members of our cast would devour. He and Grant were true professionals through and through, as we took our curtain call Andy and Grant would be on the stairs behind the stage waiting to get access to set up for their show. They spoke to every single cast member who passed them, saying well done and great show and you could tell by the sparkle in Andy’s eye he truly meant it. To share such an intimate space with Andy across the period of the festival was a true gift that’s left memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank You

Andy Making a curtain call appearance During Beauty and the Beast

Andy Gray, comic, actor, writer, performer, father, grandfather, family member and friend you have been taken far too soon and the irony of your beating cancer with humor and good grace you were renowned for does not go un-noticed only to be taken so soon after that victory. None the less we say thank you, for all those years of joy, laughter and memories you’ve given to audiences across Scotland. You were a true gentleman filled in equal measure with compassion, love and talent. We shall never see your likes again, but we will always remember you, standing in the spotlight on the Kings Theatre Stage taking in the adulation you so richly deserved.

All at Scotsgay arts send our love to Andy’s Partner Tamara, Daughter Clare and all his family. Also to Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and the entire team at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh Pantomime.

Until we meet again,

Brett

Editor, Scotgay arts.