Home grown stars take centre stage

The cast of Cinderella peform until January 4.
The cast of Cinderella peform until January 4.

Garry Ellis is finally realising his dream of appearing in the Motherwell pantomime ... even if he has to wear a frock to do so.

A former member of Motherwell Children’s Theatre and an ex-Motherwell College student Garry is no stranger to Motherwell Theatre and is delighted to be appearing in Cinderella as a professional actor.

He said: “It’s cool to have been here as a child and a teen and now be getting paid for it.

“They specifically wanted Scottish actors, so when I auditioned I made sure they knew I had a house here I can live in and I wanted to go home to see my mum for Christmas.

“I’ll be home for the first time in four years so everyone I know can come and see me, normally I’m so far away that with only having Christmas Day off it was just impossible.”

Garry stars as Ugly Annie, one half of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters, and says he is having a great time.

He said: “It’s great fun, the people are amazing, I’d seen Sheepie in the panto before so it’s great to be able to work with him and make all the people laugh.

“When I was young I was always jealous of the little girls who got to be in the show, but finally I have made it onto the stage and I’m playing a girl. I knew I had to be a woman to get a part in the Motherwell pantomime!

“I think it’s fantastic for little kids to see people from this town in the show as I remember as a child watching shows and you’d have an English Aladdin or a Welsh Cinderella.

“For the children in the show with us to know it’s nice for them to know we went to the same schools and what is achievable as everyone tell you not to study dancing or singing because you won’t get a job.

“If the producers wanted me to come back it would be nice, but it’s one of those you just never know where you’ll end up, this year alone I’ve been from Bahrain to Worcester, so next week I might be offered a job in the West End or I might be offered a job in McDonald’s.”

One of the girls Garry may have been jealous of is dancer Kirsty Grant who appeared in the panto for three years as a child, but then suffered a frustrating time watching from the sidelines.

Like Garry she was a member of Motherwell Children’s Theatre and started out in a career in journalism before finally picking up for dancing shoes.

She said: “I can’t get away from this place, but it’s good, I was here with the children’s theatre and my dance school, Valerie Brown, did shows here, I worked front of house and in marketing and now finally I get paid to dance.

“People always told me to I had to stick to a career and English and journalism were my thing, but I wasn’t enjoying it very much and I thought if I pursued dancing and it didn’t work out then at least I had something to fall back on.

“I always knew I could do it so it was a little bit frustrating working here and knowing I’d rather be on stage.

“I fell in love with dancing here as a child doing panto as I looked at the adult dancers as if they were goddesses, so now to be back here doing panto as an adult and to be one of them is just wonderful.

“I can literally walk home in six minutes so it’s the perfect job, I auditioned for English pantos and if I had got one of them that would have been great, but turns out you don’t have to be away from home for Christmas.”

Garry and panto co-star Ian ‘Sheepie’ Smith are launching a new drama company called Go Kids Scotland in the New Year.

Gary said: “Our main focus is to have a place for kids to grow in confidence as well as improving their fitness, social skills and the most important thing is that the classes are fun.

“Drama is a great way for kids to express themselves and we are passionate about bringing out the best in the children of Lanarkshire.”

Classes for girls and boys aged 4-8 will initially run on Wednesdays at 4pm and 5pm in Shotts Health Living Centre and on Thursdays in Wishaw YMCA at 4pm and 5pm, with plans for more classes in the next few months.

For more information visit www.gokidsscotland.org.uk.

Cinderella runs until January 4 so make sure you have your tickets for the ball which cost £11-14.50 and are available by calling 01698 403120 or visit www.culturenl.co.uk where you can also find the schedule of performances.