Media Release: Panto success makes way for a Gaiety programme to brighten up January

FOLLOWING a blistering run of sold-out Cinderella performances at the newly re-opened Ayr Gaiety, the New Year is welcomed in Gaiety style with a packed and varied Spring programme with something for everyone.

The Gaiety’s transformation from iconic theatre to Arts and Theatre hub for Ayr is complete with the launch of the new Studio theatre space: a flexible multi-functional and intimate venue perfect for music gigs, digital film screenings, dance and drama workshops, and more.

January’s Studio programme includes the cream of emerging Scottish musical talent; razor-sharp comedy; poetry and drama to celebrate Ayrshire’s Bard for Burns Night; as well as performing arts workshops for wee ones. Meanwhile, in the iconic Gaiety Theatre, the inimitable vocal talents of UK superstar, Elkie Brooks, look set to raise the roof at the end of the month.

Ian Welsh, chair of Ayr Gaiety Partnership, remarked on an incredible first few weeks of opening, saying: “We have been truly overwhelmed by the public’s response to the re-opening of The Gaiety. We hope that the varied January programme, headlined by Elkie Brooks, will inspire people to come back for more.”

Vince Hope, executive director, added: “Elkie Brooks’ undeniable vocal talent and well deserved reputation as a world-class performer chimes entirely with The Gaiety’s forthcoming programme. We’ll aim to bring the highest quality entertainment to Ayr, encompassing the very best in music, theatre, dance, film, comedy and drama, and Elkie’s shows definitely fit with our mission to deliver that for the people of Ayrshire and for visitors to the area.”


Little Fire & Friends:

John Cooper ● Alan Frew ● Paul McGranaghan ●Trusty and The Foe ● Nika

Friday 11 January; 7.30pm

Ayr Gaiety Studio

Studio Sessions, The Gaiety’s platform for emerging acoustic musical talent opens the brand new Gaiety Studio! Singer Songwriter Little Fire has curated a night of top quality Scottish musicians for our opening night, each performing their own original material as well as joining Little Fire to perform his works. “Great voice and talent, one of Scotland’s brightest new talents.” (Dougie MacLean on Little Fire)

Comedy Night:

Vladimir McTavish

Tuesday 15 January 2013; 8pm

Ayr Gaiety Studio

Comedy Nights at The Gaiety Studio start in the New Year with host and compere, Susan Morrison, ‘the Glaswegian wit for whom the word feisty was invented’ (Scotland on Sunday), alongside her stand-up friends. These regular comedy shows in The Gaiety Studio will each feature a special guest headliner. This first event has the cream of young Scottish stand-up joining the line-up – including Suzie McCabe, Keir McAlister and Eleanor Morton. Vladimir McTavish serves up a delightful feast of social observation and topical satire, seasoned with his caustic wit and presented via a platter of breakneck-pace patter. “Lively, sharp and skilful” (Time Out) (Adult 18yrs+ only. Contains strong language that some may find offensive.)

A Man’s A Man

Compiled by John Murtagh ● Performed by James Robinson & John Murtagh

● Music by Alistair McDonald

Thursday 24 January 2013; 7.30pm

Ayr Gaiety Studio

A play, an entertainment, a celebration, an investigation into the life of Ayrshire’s beloved treasure and Scotland’s most famous son – Robert Burns. Performed in The Gaiety Studio by James Robinson & John Murtagh, with music from Alistair McDonald. “The performance of ‘Parcel of Rogues’ made my hair stand on end.” (The New Statesman)

Burns Supper

Friday 25 January; 7pm

Ayr Gaiety Studio (Price includes entertainment & Burns supper: Traditional Scotch Broth

● Haggis Neeps and Tatties ● Cranachan)

A barn-storming Burns Supper in our brand new Studio Theatre with all the traditional ingredients delivered with a unique mixture of deep wisdom and biting wit, accompanied by Burns’s beautiful songs. For the Lasses: Joyce Falconer, best known as Roisin from BBC’s ‘River City’; For the Laddies: Carl MacDougall; television presenter, radio broadcaster, editor, compiler, reviewer & writer. With John Murtagh, Theatre Director, Actor and confirmed Burnsian and featuring the great talents of local musician Little Fire. “Little Fire brings something fresh to the songs of Burns…an intensity and passion that gets right back into the good old Ayrshire dirt that Burns himself sprang from.” (Robert Burns Birthplace Museum)

Elkie Brooks

Tuesday 29 January; 7.30pm

Ayr Gaiety Theatre

Quite simply one of the most successful and popular singers the UK has ever produced. During a career spanning five decades, with numerous hit singles, million selling albums and awards to her name, Elkie Brooks’s shows are a rare treat for fans old and new. Performing classic hits, blues, jazz and songs from her new album ‘Powerless’, an evening with Elkie at The Gaiety promises to delight, mesmerise and enthral, proving she is still one of the UK’s most powerful and versatile vocal talents. Elkie released her much anticipated autobiography ‘Finding My Voice’ in 2012 to critical acclaim. Elkie is a stunning performer and whatever she does, she does it best live. Don’t miss the chance to see a truly great artist in action. “Still One Of The Great British Voices.” (The Guardian)

Let’s Perform

Sunday afternoons; 1pm-4pm

Spring programme: from 13 January to 24 March 2013

Gaiety Studio

Weekly Performing Arts workshops in The Gaiety Studio for youngsters aged 4 – 18, brought to you by local Television and pantomime performer, Liam Dolan and West End performer and choreographer, Elliot Nixon.


A new vision…

When Gaiety theatre closed, it was much loved but in decline. So, simply rolling back the clock was not going to be the answer. Instead we have a new vision to redevelop the Gaiety as a centre for theatre and the arts to stimulate and inspire Ayr’s cultural life.

The new Gaiety has something for the whole community…

The new ‘Stage Door’ café / bar / restaurant will be open seven days a week, offering a meeting place and anything from a coffee to a full evening meal.

The Gaiety’s brand new flexible studio theatre will be the perfect space for music gigs, digital film screenings, dance and drama workshops, spoken word events, comedy nights and more.

Our partnership with the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) will create an innovative ‘learning theatre’ connecting Ayr’s growing student population with the life of the town in a centre for education, training and research. We are also developing plans to take the Gaiety into the community, with opportunities for involvement in all sorts of ways. The Gaiety’s iconic original auditorium has some unique qualities and in the near future we will be bringing it back to its former glory – as well as modernising ‘behind the scenes’ working.

Capital Restoration

Ayr Gaiety Partnership has received over £1 million of investment from The Scottish Government, South Ayrshire Council, The Enterprise Growth Fund, South Ayrshire Waste and Environment Trust and donations from local businesses and residents. Renovations thus far have included: new toilets; the new Studio; the remodelled café/bar/restaurant; structural and remedial works in order to keep the building wind and watertight; rot elimination; heating, ventilation and electrical installations.

Next steps

A 100-year old building comes with more than a few signs of wear and tear, so we are going to need much more investment to achieve our full vision.

The balcony has some great views of the stage but it’s not really suitable for an audience at present. We have opened up the main entrance already but we need to do a little internal remodelling to create a more open and friendly space. All the seating will need to be refurbished or renewed and the stage facilities require upgrading. Full screen projection in the main auditorium will mean we can broaden our programme and there are many small but important upgrades to tackle too. Redecoration to restore the auditorium to its former glory will be essential. Finally, reducing costs and environmental impact of heating and lighting will be critical for our future economic and environmental sustainability. So we are delighted that Creative Scotland has backed our vision by earmarking over £1 million for the next stage in our restoration project.

With another £600,000 or so to raise, we have our work cut out. But we’ve already got some interest from funders and we are confident we can rise to this challenge in 2013. Of course, further refurbishment will mean the main auditorium will have to close at some point for restoration work. Creative Scotland have also provided us with funding to get the best expert advice so we can plan these works with minimum disruption to our programme (and nothing will get in the way of what we already have planned).

What about the running costs?

South Ayrshire Council has backed The Gaiety with a contribution of £750,000 over five years starting in 2012 to allow us to get up and running, build our audiences and establish a secure footing. This doesn’t mean we have money to spare, so right from the start we are making sure we keep income up and costs to a minimum. And by listening to our audiences, keeping prices down and utilising digital media we hope to make every show a great success.

About Ayr Gaiety Partnership

Ayr Gaiety Partnership Limited (AGP) is a charitable organisation and social enterprise formed in 2009 to redevelop and operate the Ayr Gaiety as an inspiring arts and theatre hub for South Ayrshire. In September 2012, Ayr Gaiety Partnership Limited took on a 99-year lease of the Gaiety for a ‘peppercorn’ rent from South Ayrshire Council. AGP was set up in 2009 by two local residents, who were joined by three more to make up the current board. All are volunteers and have led an effort of another twenty or so local volunteers to work on fundraising, cleaning up the theatre, overseeing capital works and much more. As well as a team of dedicated volunteers The Gaiety has small but incredibly talented group of employees. Combining local knowledge with a strong track record from further afield, our staff team are at the core of our operation. They develop the programme, manage the business, oversee the technical side, promote our activities and provide essential back up to our volunteers.

100 years of history…

Designed by local architect J.McHardy Young, The Gaiety Theatre first opened on 1st October 1902. The original interior had two tiers, could accommodate 1,200 and cost £9,500. Less than a year later, the theatre was devastated by fire – and met the same fate in 1955. On both occasions rebuilding meant the Gaiety rose from the ashes, although each time in a changed layout.

For nearly half its lifetime, from 1925-73, the theatre was run by the Popplewell Family who built up much of the affection the Gaiety still retains today. In later years, while owned and run by South Ayrshire Council, it remained the premier theatre in South West Scotland. Over its long life the stage has seen performances from comedians, singers, variety acts and icons such as Sir Harry Lauder, Ken Dodd, Dave Willis, Jack Milroy and Gaiety legend Johnny Beattie. But financial pressures and an operating model that no longer worked saw the Gaiety bow out on Saturday 31st January 2009.

South Ayrshire has not had a dedicated arts venue since the closure of the original Gaiety in 2009 which was the premier theatre in South West Scotland, presenting over 220 performances a year to an audience of just over 80,000.


Box Office: 01292 288 235

Twitter: @AyrGaiety


For further information please contact:

Natalie Davidson, Marketing (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)

07920 729 391

Jeremy Wyatt, director, Ayr Gaiety Partnership

07973 119 013

Vince Hope, executive director, Ayr Gaiety Partnership

07905 252 872

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Contact: Natalie Davidson
Phone: 01292288235