Youngsters will take charge at Perth Theatre this summer. The recently relaunched venue will throw open its doors for a Youth Take Over Day, as part of the Diverse CiTay Festival. The takeover, celebrating the 2018 Year of Young People, will give rising stars the chance to showcase their acting, dancing, singing and musical skills. It will be the culmination of the Youth Arts Festival, held at the theatre and nearby Perth Concert Hall. Youngsters feature heavily in the new summer programme, unveiled by Horsecross Arts. The brochure promises a feast of comedy, dance and theatrics. A variety of special guests, including award-winning Janis Claxton Dance, will hit the stage as part of the Perth Dance Festival. There will be more rug-cutting with Remembering Fred with stars from Strictly Come Dancing, and Britain's Got Talent heroes Flawless. Meanwhile, the Perth Festival of the Arts will lure big names to the city including Jools Holland, the English Touring Company and comedian Ruby Wax. Stand-up star Jason Manford will bring his latest show Muddle Class to Perth Concert Hall in September, while broadcaster Fred MacAulay will return to the Fair City in June to mark 30 years since his comedy debut. In May, the Perth Theatre company will tour to rural venues across the region. Artistic director Lu Kemp direct the Kieran Hurley-scripted production of A Six Inch Layer of Topsoil and the Fact It Rains. Those looking for more hands-on involvement in the work of Perth Theatre are encouraged to sign up to An Introduction to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a week-long acting workshop hosted by Ms Kemp. Horsecross has also lined up shows for younger audiences, Animals and Baba Yaga, at the theatre's new Joan Knight Studio. And there will be two classical concerts to celebrate French composer Claude Debussy's centenary year. In July, the ever-popular Southern Fried Festival will return with a packed programme of American roots music. Among the acts will be folk legend Steve Earle, known to TV audiences as a star of The Wire and Treme, and singer-songwriter Graham Nash. Other highlights of the summer schedule include a tribute to the King of Pop - The Michael Jackson HIStory Show - and the Carpenters Story.
The curtain has been raised on historic Perth Theatre after a momentous £16.6 million makeover. The iconic venue was hailed as a "huge asset" for the Fair City as it opened it doors to the public for the first time in nearly four years. https://www.facebook.com/thecourieruk/videos/10155713947421215/ Theatre bosses welcomed the first wave of a curious customers through the brand new Mill Street entrance. Visitors are being invited to view the new box office, cafe, bar and shop, with tours planned of the Edwardian auditorium which has been restored to its former glory. The 500-seat hall will relaunch officially next month with this year's pantomime Aladdin. A new 200-capacity studio theatre, named after legendary director Joan Knight, has also been built, as well as community rooms for youth theatre groups. Gwilym Gibbons, chief executive of Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation behind the theatre and Perth Concert Hall said: "This is an incredibly exciting moment. "The Perth Theatre transformation has secured the future of one of Scotland's most historic and culturally significant landmarks for many generations to enjoy." He said: "I think its an extraordinary building. It feels like a very friendly space, and that's exactly what we wanted. "It's sometimes hard, when its in the midst of construction, to see beyond that, but I think this has really surpassed our expectations." Artistic director Lu Kemp added: "Perth Theatre used to be called the People's Theatre Perth. We've redeveloped and restored it, we need local people to re-inhabit it and to bring it back to life. "We look forward to welcoming everybody and hope they will return this extraordinary building to its former glory - a busy, warm place used and enjoyed by everyone." Perth City North councillor Harry Coates (Conservative), who is on the Horsecross executive committee, added: "Its absolutely incredible. "The cafe, bar, auditorium - the whole feel of the place - has been completely transformed. It is a huge asset for Perth and I would encourage everyone to come along and check it out." The venue will host an open house event on Saturday, November 18, with a range of activities including story telling sessions, tours and a pop-up shop, as well as music from the Horsecross Glee choir. A giant visitor book will be available for signing. Aladdin begins its run on Saturday, December 9. Perth Theatre time line 1899 - George Alexander, famous for his work with Oscar Wilde, lays the foundation stone. 1900 - Designed by Dundee architect William Alexander, Perth Theatre opens its doors 1909 - Founding lessee JH Savile buys the theatre outright 1935 - Perth Theatre Company, the first of its kind in Scotland, is established by Marjorie Dence and David Steuart 1939 - The theatre hosts Scotland's first ever Scottish Theatre Festival, including a new play by acclaimed writer James Bridie 1940 - During World War Two, devoted actors live and work as a commune to enable Perth Theatre's survival 1945 - Perth Theatre Company celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special collection of performances, including Hamlet with John Laurie in the lead role 1959 - Perth Playgoers Club is founded, so that Perth Theatre fans can raise cash for productions 1960-61 - Donald Sutherland and Peter Penry-Jones appear alongside each other 1966 - Perth Youth Theatre is established 1968-93 - Joan Knight, known as the first lady of Scottish Theatre, masterminds Perth Theatre's ongoing success 1972 - Perth hosts its first Festival of the Arts 1987 - Ewan McGregor begins his acting career at the theatre. He continues to be a project ambassador of Perth Theatre's capital campaign 2001 - A time capsule from Perth Theatre's grand opening in 1899 is discovered in the theatre's foundations 2005 - Horsecross Arts launches Perth Concert Hall and takes over the running of Perth Theatre 2013 - Paranormal investigators are brought in to check out spooky sightings 2014 - The theatre closes for renovation after last family pantomime, Cinderella 2016 - Extension is demolished to make way for new Mill Street entrance
A new exhibition shines the spotlight on the rich history of one of Scotland's oldest theatres. A selection of costumes, props and behind-the-scenes kit has gone on show at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery. The nostalgic display marks the start of a countdown to the highly anticipated relaunch of Perth Theatre in October. The city centre venue is getting a £16.6 million make-over and is on target to relaunch in time for the Christmas panto. The Through The Curtain exhibition puts on show a variety of items from the city's archives, including old posters, programmes and photographs. Visitors will even get the chance to tread the boards on specially built stage, and dress up in a range of extravagant costumes. Authentic theatre radio chatter - "five minutes to curtain" - will be played through speakers at the gallery. Local history officer Nicola Cowmeadow said work on the exhibition began about a year-and-a-half ago. Members of a memory collective have been researching the history of the theatre and have unearthed a treasure trove of memorabilia. They have also been speaking to members of the theatre community, gathering their ideas and recollections. "I think this will be a real walk down memory lane," she said. "We're hoping that a lot of actors and people who have worked at the theatre will come along and have a look over what we've put together. "There will be people out there with their own items from Perth Theatre, like old programmes and tickets. It would be great to get more to add to our collection." Once the exhibition has finished its run in October, it will be set up anew at the city's AK Bell Library to coincide with the theatre relaunch. Among the collection are costumes from old shows including a Widow Twankey outfit from Dick Whittington. There is also the spectacular Technicolour Dreamcoat worn by Jason Connery, Sean's son. The theatre has been closed for three years. The B listed Edwardian auditorium is being restored to its former glory and a new 200 seat studio theatre is also being created. The revamped venue will have extra workshop space for creative learning and community projects, including the thriving Perth Youth Theatre. Due to be completed late 2017, the High Street entrance to the building will be retained, with a new frontage created on Mill Street, improving access and facilities for visitors. Galaxy of stars A galaxy of stars have performed in Perth over the decades. Many have gone on to wider fame on TV and cinema including Liza Goddard, Edward Woodward, Kevin Whatley, Denis Lawson and his nephew Ewan McGregor. Donald Sutherland starred in a seasons of performances in the early 1960s, including Robinson Crusoe. And there has been a whole host of Scottish names, including Russell Hunter alongside his wife Una McLean, Walter Carr and Alec Heggie. The theatre moved to its High Street home in 1899. A time capsule buried in the foundations included a copy of The Courier from October 4 of that year. The building boasted an 800 all seated auditorium, set out in a style typical of the Victorian era. Badly damaged by fire in 1924, Perth Theatre was bought 11 years later by Marjorie Dence and David Steuart who opened the first ever repertory company in Scotland. In the first three years 144 plays were performed, and in the following 50 years more than 1000 plays were produced. Marjorie Dence died in 1966 and the theatre was left to the Scottish Art Council. In 1987 - nine years before Trainspotting - Ewan McGregor left school aged 16 and started his acting career at Perth. He worked as a stagehand at the theatre and had small roles in productions while he saved funds for a trip to London to audition at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Perth is getting ready for its first ever military tattoo. Bosses at the Edinburgh Castle spectacular have confirmed they will visit the Fair City for a one-one performance later this month. Around 400 performers will march from South Inch, along Tay Street to North Inch on Sunday, August 21. The daytime event will mark the 750th anniversary of the Treaty of Perth. The historic document ended a bitter conflict between Scotland and Norway and a copy will go on show in the city later this year. It was signed on July 2, 1266, by Magnus VI of Norway and King Alexander III of Scotland at the Blackfriars monestary on the northern edge of the city. The treaty settled the sovereignty of the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Shetland and Orkney. The procession will form at the South Inch from 10.45am and will be led into the city centre by local bands and youth groups. Elements of this year's huge Edinburgh show will perform a mini-Tattoo, offering a 50-minute sample of the internationally-renowned pageant. Perth provost Liz Grant said it was a great boost for the city, which is currently hosting the poignant Weeping Window poppies display. "We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to host this prestigious event in Perth," she said. "It will no doubt be a breath-taking display of military choreography. "I am especially looking forward to the show of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo centrepiece acts and the involvement of our very own Perth and District Pipe Band, who will bring a very colourful and joyful focus to the event." It is hoped the tattoo will help strengthen Perth's bid for City of Culture status, which will formally launch two days before. Brigadier David Alfrey, chief executive and producer of the tattoo, said: "Perth is an exquisite city, rich in highland heritage and Scottish culture. The city and the venue on the banks of the River Tay offers us a perfect stage for a 'taste of the tattoo.' "This is the Tattoo's first ever visit to the city and so, for us and some of the visiting international acts, this is a special occasion." He added: "I hope we will entertain and inspire a Perth crowd on a perfect Sunday afternoon. It should be a colourful and fun occasion in its own right and may encourage some folk to come to Edinburgh to see the full show in all its glory." The Tattoo launched its 2016 programme in Edinburgh this week and is expected to draw crowds of 220,000 spectators from across the globe. Each year the international brand showcases a phenomenal mix of military pageantry, music, dance and technical wizardry.
A group formed to encourage up-and-coming stars of stage and screen is marking its golden anniversary with a series of events. Perth Youth Theatre, which counts Trainspotting's Ewan McGregor among its alumni, is planning a gala concert to celebrate its first 50 years. The show will include nods to past productions, as well as brand new elements devised by current members. The group will also be hosting a series of workshops and masterclasses across the Perthshire patch. The celebrations are just part of a busy season of music, drama and events planned for the region over the autumn and winter months. Youth Theatre members helped Horsecross Arts unveil its new line-up and brochure at Perth Concert Hall on Thursday morning. Among the forthcoming highlights will be former PYT member Colin McCredie in political thriller Democracy, about plots and conspiracies in West Germany. An all-star cast including Still Game's Paul Riley and Joyce Falconer of River City fame will bring DC Thomson's The Broons to life in a brand new production. And there is a rare chance to see the longest running show in British theatre, Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery The Mouse Trap. Brochure cover star, guitarist Miloš Karadaglić will take concert hall audiences on a journey from Bach to the Beatles with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, while the popular Celtic Sessions features gigs from ex Love and Money frontman James Grant. Dougie MacLean will also be returning with his Perthshire Amber Festival in November, featuring many friends from the world of traditional music. And there will be celebrations of two much-missed singers: The Johnny Cash Roadshow and The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show. The festive season will get off to a sparkling start with The Nutcracker performed by the Russian State Ballet and Opera House. The atmospheric St John's Kirk will be the venue for Scottish Ensemble's Concert by Candlelight and Handel's Messiah, while local Perth band Red Pine Timber will ring in 2017 with a pre-Hogmanay party in the concert hall. It has also been confirmed that the team behind last year's huge panto success Beauty and the Beast will return for this year's Christmas treat Dick McWhittington.
Perth is gearing up for its biggest ever Christmas party. Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the city centre to watch pop superstar Alesha Dixon turn on this year's festive display, with help from East 17 and retro rockers Mud. https://www.facebook.com/thecourieruk/videos/10155706323231215/ The live music extravaganza is just one part of this weekend's Winter Festival celebrations, however. Bakers from across the area are putting the finishing touches to edible city landmarks for the city's first ever Cakefest, while King Edward Street will host a two-day celebration of all things gin and chocolate. There will also be entertainment on two smaller stages and a Santa-led procession along South Street before the switch-on and fireworks at 6.15pm on Saturday. Meanhwhile, Alesha Dixon has agreed to meet local young people to discuss their plans for a celebration of youth dance, theatre and drama. Diverse CiTay, which will be held in Perth in June, will feature performances and activities across the city, including the world's shortest carnival, featuring floats created around the theme of diversity. The event is being organised by locals as part of the Perth and Kinross Year of Young People 2018. Alesha will meet about 60 of the group - aged from six to 26 - at an intimate gathering on Saturday night, following the switch-on. Around £40,000 of common good cash has been ploughed into the ceremony, although the fees paid to the main performers have once again been kept under wraps. Previous years' events - featuring the likes of Peter Andre and Billy Ocean - have helped pump millions of pounds into the local economy, according to council statistics. Creations for this year's Cakefest will go on display at the Horsecross Plaza, outside the concert hall, on Sunday. More than 35 groups of bakers have volunteered to produce tasty versions of local buildings and structures for an edible map of the region. Some of the landmarks include Smeaton's Bridge, Perth Concert Hall, McDiarmid Park, AK Bell Library and Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Head baker Simon Preston said: "It has been wonderful meeting so many local people with a passionate enthusiasm for Perth and Kinross. "The response has been phenomenal and our volunteer bakers are really rising to the challenge. "They have already spent hours designing and baking their cakes and are now gearing up for a busy weekend." He said: "It's going to be an absolutely spectacular visual and edible feast." Main Stage running order (As with all live events timings may vary on the day) 3.00 pm - 3.45 pm, Longstay 4.00 pm - 4.45 pm, Mud 5.00 pm - 6.00 pm, The Hunna Christmas parade starts at 5.30 pm from Thimblerow car park 6.00 pm - 6.15 pm, Provost and guests arrive on stage from parade 6.15 pm - 6.25 pm Lights Switch-On and fireworks Fireworks set off point is on the opposite river bank at Norrie Miller Walk. 6.30 pm - 7.10 pm Boyzlife 7.10 pm - 7.45 pm Alesha Dixon 7.50 pm - 8.30 pm East 17 Stage closes
The boss of one of Perth's oldest independent shops is taking dramatic action to help solve the city centre parking crisis. Since the closure of McEwens, retailers have been crying out for more parking to help lure customers into the precinct and away from out-of-town stores. Last week, councillors approved a traffic management review which would see, amongst other initiatives, new spaces created along Tay Street and South Street. Now Watsons of Perth, which has been part of High Street for more than a century, has unveiled its own plan for a new 28-bay car park. Manager Kerr Watson wants to tear down two old warehouses at the back of the shop to pave the way for the development. He is in talks with a private parking firm - not Smart Parking - to operate the site. A planning application has been lodged with Perth and Kinross Council. It is understood officers are supportive of the plan, which could tie in with the redevelopment of neighbouring Perth Theatre and the wider regeneration of Mill Street. Mr Watson said if the plan isn't approved, his gift shop business may not survive. "Times are tough," he said. "Like a lot of independent stores round here, we have been struggling for some time now. "The nature of our business has changed and the warehouses at the back of the shop are now empty. We used to store catering supplies for local hotels, but that side of our work has now gone." He said: "We know all too well that there is a desperate need for more city centre parking and this should go some way to addressing that. "It will be great for people to be able to park so close to the high street." Mr Watson said he agreed with former McEwens boss John Bullough that business rates were the biggest issue facing city centre retailers. "This extra car parking will hopefully help businesses until someone finds a solution to the extortionate rates we are paying." The car park plan is being developed by property consultants Bidwells. In a statement to planners, a spokesman for the firm said: "The proposed car parking, within immediate proximity to the pedestrianised High Street, would contribute to boosting the surrounding retail, food, leisure and hotel businesses. "This is a significant opportunity, at a time when businesses, including many long-established such as McEwens, are having to close down. Furthermore, the proposals are timely with the approved wider Mill Street regeneration scheme." The council's parking review was approved by members of the enterprise and infrastructure committee. As well as more than 30 new bays on Tay Street, 10 disabled spaces on South Street will be turned into traditional pay-and-display facilities. A £1.5million revamp of the Canal Street multi-storey is also planned.
Jobs are being axed at a leading Scottish hotel firm as bosses attempt to safeguard the business from rising costs. Around 1,200 Crieff Hydro staff have been offered voluntary redundancies, with a warning that compulsory losses could follow later in the year. Chief executive Stephen Leckie said he has been forced to cut staff as financial burdens - including major increases in food and drink prices - continue to take their toll on the Perthshire-based company. As well as the world famous Crieff Hydro Hotel, the firm has nine other establishments in its portfolio including Crieff's Murraypark Hotel and the Green Hotel and Windlestrae Hotel at Kinross. Mr Leckie, who is also chairman of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: "It's very sad that we've had to do this, but we are facing tough times in this industry with costs going up galore." He said that National Living Wage rates had cost the company "hundreds of thousands of pounds on top of everything else". "Of course, we are in no way against having the living wage, but it's an example of the increased pressure we are under. We're seeing rises in food and drink costs at the same time. “These new costs means that we’ve been making less profits and that means we're aren't able reinvest in the company," he said. “People will ask why don’t we just put our prices up, but it is just not that simple. We would stand to lose a lot of business if we tried that." Mr Leckie said: “At this stage of the consultation, it is difficult to say how many jobs will be affected, but we’re not talking about mass redundancies here." In January, Mr Leckie warned that Creiff Hydro and other tourism businesses would be hit hard by a planned shake-up of business rates. He praised Finance Secretary Derek Mackay for announcing new rates relief in February. “He listened to us and took action and by doing so he has rescued many, many businesses across Scotland," Mr Leckie said. Around £40 million has been invested in the four-star Crieff Hydro Hotel in recent years. Perthshire South and Kinross-shire MSP Roseanna Cunningham said: "I am very concerned by this development at Crieff Hydro and will be contacting Stephen Leckie to get more information about his plans, particularly with regard to the number of voluntary redundancies he is seeking, what timetable is envisaged and to get an assurance that, whatever the response to the voluntary redundancy proposals, there will be no question whatsoever of compulsory job losses." “I am a little disappointed that Stephen Leckie is referencing the National Living Wage in respect of employment costs as a justification for this move. In my opinion all employers should be looking at paying the real living wage, which is calculated according to the cost of living, not just the so-called National Living Wage.” Last year, the company expanded its growing portfolio by acquiring the Isles of Glencoe and Ballachulich hotels in a deal said to be worth millions of pounds. The firm took over the Peebles Hydro and Park Hotel in the Borders as part of a £10 million investment in 2014. The Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate and the Oban Caledonian Hotel are also on the company's books. Addressing a Holyrood committee on air tax last month, Mr Leckie said some businesses had reported 20% rises in food and drink costs. "The impact of the living wage, the impact of the apprenticeship levy, this industry has never faced such tough times in terms of costs,” he said. In November, it was announced that the hotel group made £24.3 million last year with a pre-tax profit of £265,048. The company's bid for a £100 million expansion of the Crieff Hydro Hotel was rejected by councillors in December.
The legendary "first lady" of the Scottish stage has been given a lasting tribute at new look Perth Theatre. Joan Knight was known to generations as artistic director at the 117-year-old venue, which is poised to open its doors after a £16.6 million rebuild. A new 200-seat studio theatre at the building has been named in her honour. A new commission fund has also been set up in Joan's name, which will invest in up-and-coming local talent. Joan was artistic director at the theatre from 1968 to 1993 - three years before her death - and was known as a champion of new playwriting and young talent, including the likes of Trainspotting star Ewan McGregor. The driving force behind the new fund and studio name are two former theatre employees who worked alongside Joan. Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, who was the venue's first general manager from 1976 to 1982, said: "Joan Knight believed in nurturing new talent, and growing existing talent. "She would give new and established actors opportunities to develop their skills, she commissioned and employed new writers, designers and directors, many of whom went on to run major theatre companies and direct productions across the UK and internationally." She said: "This commitment provides the foundation on which the Joan Knight New Commission Fund will be established. Its aim will be to invest in emerging talent - in the people of today who will bring new ideas and energy to the theatre with the opportunity to work with the remarkable current artistic team at Perth Theatre." Patrick Sandford, who worked at the theatre in the 1980s, rising through the ranks from trainee to director, added: "Looking back, it is important to acknowledge that audiences change and the theatre always needs new approaches. "The past is interesting and should be honoured and examined, but the nostalgic notion of a Golden Age is misleading. The Golden Age of Perth Theatre is now. "Joan would be thrilled to have a new studio space and to think that living writers were having their work done in it, by enterprising directors and actors." New artistic director Lu Kemp said: "For the past three decades, Scotland has been a beacon for new writing - the work of Scottish playwrights is performed all over the world. "I look forward to honouring Joan Knight's legacy, and following my own personal commitment by developing and supporting new talent at Perth Theatre." She added: "The flexibility of the new studio is an inspiration, and will enable artists to create relevant exciting work for audiences today." The doors to Perth Theatre will re-open on Monday, November 13, when the public will be able to access the box office, cafe and bar. The first production will be Aladdin, which begins its run on Saturday, December 9.
At some point in the long hot summer of 1971, when Perth Theatre was making plans to host its first Festival of Arts, one worker decided they need some time to themselves. They squirrelled themselves away into an attic space above the auditorium, safely away from the drama on and off stage below, and amused themselves for a few minutes flicking through the pages of the latest Jackie magazine - featuring back cover pin-up, Neil Diamond. We’ll never know what happened next, but for whatever reason they had to make a quick exit, leaving the magazine behind, neatly folded in half. Some 45 years later, the publication was found by a construction crew working on the theatre’s £16.6 million transformation. So who was this person who, to this day, might be wondering where they left their copy of Jackie magazine? “Probably just some chancer skiving off in the attic,” according to Craig Bulloch, who is senior project manager, overseeing the theatre’s transformation. Work on the ambitious redevelopment got underway earlier this year and is on target for a re-launch in late 2017. The job has reached a significant milestone, with a three-storey extension - completed in 1985 - now completely demolished to make way for a bright new foyer, bar, restaurant and 200-capacity studio theatre. The remains of the extension are still there, however, crushed into the foundations of the new building. The focus now moves to the restoration of the B-listed Edwardian auditorium. It is being restored to its former glory and all original features such as walls, plasterwork, seating and lighting will be repaired and replaced. The walls will be predominantly red, with mouldings replicated in cream and gold. The Courier has been given a sneak peek inside the old theatre - where stars including Ewan McGregor began their career - as construction rumbles on. Mr Bulloch, of Roberston Construction Tayside, said the project has been smooth so far. “Work is going well and as programmed,” he said. “We should have no issues handing over when the time comes.” From early August, it’s going to be hard to miss the work being carried out at theatre. A massive 230ft crane will be brought in for about six months to help swing the skeleton of the new complex into place. “It is really going to change the skyline of Perth,” said Mr Bulloch. The pristine Jackie magazine, dating from August 1971, is just one of several treasures which have been unearthed during the work. Old tickets - including one from 1912 for a show called April Fool’s Day - were found in the Gods (or upper circle) which has been re-opened for the first time since the 1960s. All the artefacts, some taken from long-forgotten cupboards and hideaways, will eventually go on show as part of a project by the theatre’s memory collective team. The group of volunteers are working to investigate the history of the theatre and are putting together a performance with local schoolchildren. To contribute to the memory project contact email@example.com