Sleeping Beauty returns after 28 years…

Dec 17 2013 | By More

EPT’s Beauty made panto debut aged just 9 months

Maureen Cochrane (Bad Witch), Mairi Beaver (young Beauty), Pauline Chambers (Beauty), Mary Charleton (Queen) in EPT's 1985 production of The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Mairi Beaver

Maureen Cochrane (Bad Witch), Mairi Beaver (young Beauty), Pauline Chambers (Beauty), Mary Charleton (Queen) in EPT’s 1985 production of The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Mairi Beaver

By Thom Dibdin

When Beauty takes to the stage in the Edinburgh People’s Theatre production of The Sleeping Beauty at the end of this week, it will be in the role in which she made her panto debut aged just nine months.

It was back in 1985 when, as a babe in arms, Mairi Beaver had a cameo role as the young Beauty – being cursed at her christening by the bad witch to prick herself on a spindle before her 18th birthday. But not, of course, to die, as she is saved to sleep for a hundred years.

This year, Mairi steps out onto the stage as the grown-up Beauty, all ready to fall for her handsome prince. And in a nice twist of fate, it is her own mother, Irene Beaver, who is directing the production.

Irene is tight-lipped about the surprises she has in store for this year’s effort, which opens at the Church Hill Theatre on Thursday. But she remembers the Christmas nights, all those years ago, when she brought Mairi up to the theatre to perform.

“She was only on at the very beginning,” says Irene. “Everyone knew her because I had been in EPT for years. She know everyone who was going to be on the stage.

“I took her along to a couple of rehearsals and they all chatted to her and then each evening the people who were playing the baddies would chat to her – they were all covered in in green – so she got used to them, and that was fine.”

Drumming her feet as if most distressed

A beauty she might have been as baby, but she was not a sleeping one according to Irene. She remembers Mairi looking over her shoulder quite happily at Maureen Cochrane, who played the baddy – but drumming her feet as if most distressed on Mary Charleton who played the Queen.

Gordon Braidwood (Gormless), Kyle Sutherland (Oddjob) and Mairi Beaver (Beauty). Photo © EPT

Gordon Braidwood (Gormless), Kyle Sutherland (Oddjob) and Mairi Beaver (Beauty). Photo © EPT

If the young Mairi was quite the performer, her mother was just a spectator that year: “Mairi was only small and as soon as she had finished I used to take her straight home. Betty Brandon was the choreographer then. And one of her ladies who helped out made Mairi a beautiful little crown which I still have.”

One person who was performing in the 1985 production was Mandy Black, who is now a mainstay of the company, choreographing shows, providing the pantomime’s dancers from her dance school and playing this year’s witch: Olga Pong.

“This is Mandy’s 40th EPT panto,” says Irene. “I think she was a fluffy, puffy dumpling when she was six years old in The Silver Curlew – that was about Rumpelstiltskin. She was one of Betty Brandon’s dancers. Her mother used to help out and then, when Betty retired, Mandy took over the dance school.”

This is the third time that EPT, which is in its 70th anniversary year, has staged The Sleeping Beauty. Fittingly, it is the version they last performed in 1997, by EPT member David Swan, when Mairi was a 12 year-old dancer with the company.

Sadly, there will be no potential future star playing the young Beauty this year.

“We wanted one,” says Irene. “Lyzzie Dell who is playing one of the Fairies has a granddaughter who would have been perfect.  She is a beautiful baby and very calm too. But unfortunately they live in Bathgate and that is just too far to bring the wee one in.”

The Sleeping Beauty
Church Hill Theatre 33 Morningside Road, EH10 4RR
Thursday 19 – Sunday 29 December 2013.
Evenings at 7pm: Thurs 19, Fri 20, Sat 21, Mon 23, Fri 27.
Matinees at 2.30pm: Sat 21, Sun 22, Sat 28, Sun 29.
(No shows Tues 24, Wed 25 or Thurs 26).
Full details on EPT’s website:
Tickets £10 (£8 concs) from:


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Comments (2)

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  1. So looking forward to this ! Mairi was a perfect baby princess and she is even more lovely now!!

  2. Edward McGough says:

    I did a couple of Panto’s in the early 1980’s with this lovely Company & have stayed in touch over the years. I remember Mairi as a toddler & she has grown to look very like her Mum & shares her enthusiasm for the amateur stage and E.P.T.
    I hope this will be a wonderful run.