Follow the second star to the right, straight on ’til morning, and you’ll end up at The Tivoli – which will be transformed into Neverland from tomorrow.
You’ll be in good company, too, joining the Lost Boys, pirates, Indians, fairies and mermaids who make up the magical world of Peter Pan in this year’s pantomime outing from Aberdeen’s richly-talented Attic Theatre.
And director Emma Gibb says it will be a magical, colourful experience to get everyone in the mood for Christmas.
“I hope audiences will have an evening that is full of laughter, that makes them want to join in, and get up on their seats to sing and dance, and they leave smiling and happy looking forward to Christmas, full of the Christmas spirit,” she said. “That, for me, is what panto is all about.”
To add to the magic of the whole affair, Attic is really aiming high – by having cast members “fly” across the stage in some spectacular sequences.
“We have tried to create in our pantos over the years some kind of special effect, and we have gone all out with them this year, so I do hope people find it magical,” said Emma.
“We are flying somebody in the Tivoli, which has never happened before. In fact, we plan to fly quite a few people.”
Emma, a primary school teacher at Udny Green, said Attic’s is a very different style of pantomime.
“It’s very plot-heavy, the storyline, so you have to be quite creative in how you get people involved and buy into the magic of what’s happening,” she says.
But that’s just the jumping-off point for a show full of laughter, song and dance, adds Emma.
“This show is just so musically heavy, we’ve decided to go all out with our singing and dancing,” she says. “We have the most company numbers, the most songs and dances we’ve ever had in an Attic panto.”
Emma explains that the music has a mix of everything – including a little bit of The Greatest Showman but “not in the way you would think”.
“We have well-known tunes, something for the kids to sing along with, and we’ve also taken quite a rocky approach to this year’s panto,” she points out.
“I wouldn’t say it’s heavy metal, but we have some quite rocky influences in there for that really nice band accompaniment we have. Our musical director, Craig McDermott, writes the most fantastic arrangements of these pieces of music to get everyone singing and everyone up on their feet.
“It will be great.”
Of course, one of the key ingredients of any panto is the laughter – and Emma hopes there will be plenty of that in The Tivoli, too.
“The panto was written by a gentleman down in England to give us a framework, then Scott Jamieson, our assistant director, and I have sat throughout the year into the evening at a kitchen table putting references in we feel are important and funny for people in this area.”
That’s summed up by a song all about what’s been happening in Aberdeen over the past few years.
“I think people will relate to some of the exciting things that have happened in Aberdeen, and also maybe some of the things they may have found frustrating over the past few years,” adds Emma.
Look out for a bypass reference then!
Unlike Peter Pan, Attic don’t have magic pixie dust on hand to make things happen. The show is the result of a lot of hard work by everyone involved.
The talented adult cast – drawn from the north-east’s thriving amateur theatre community – has been in rehearsal since the start of September, with children from Aberdeen Academy of Dance joining in the past few weeks.
“It’s a huge, long process,” admits Emma. “Panto becomes my whole life for about a year, but this is the exciting bit for me, when we get into the theatre and the hard work we put into the production comes to life on stage to entertain as many people as possible.”
Emma paid tribute to the team, who all have jobs and family to juggle as well as their panto duties.
“It shows the overall commitment of the cast members and the production team as well,” she says. “They show such a love for what we do. You couldn’t get people with full-time jobs doing that if they didn’t love what they are doing. It’s a credit to the relationships they have with each other, how much they enjoy being on stage and the nice atmosphere we create. It’s not a chore coming together to rehearse three times a week.”
But it will be all worth it when, from tomorrow until Saturday December 22, the whole team is responsible for creating the magic of panto.
“You’ll fly with us, you’ll sing with us, you’ll take part in a fight of good versus evil with us. All that will make it very exciting, plus such a huge amount of music,” says Emma.
“Our panto is real, old-school slapstick humour, it’s family-friendly, and I do genuinely believe it can be enjoyed by all ages.
“I want people to come together in a family experience, walk into the theatre and forget everything else and be drawn in by the story and the magic and believe they are in Neverland with Peter Pan and all the characters we have.”