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Monday, 15 September 2014

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Stage show start for Carlisle Pageant

Queen Elizabeth I will meet Mary Queen of Scots as Carlisle’s colourful history is celebrated in a spectacular sporting style.

Carlisle pageant photo
Jennifer Heron as Queen Elizabeth I and Frederick Burgess as the Expert outside the castle

Final preparations are being made ahead of the second Carlisle Pageant kicking-off tomorrow.

Once again, the centrepiece of the launch will be a procession of magnificent giant puppets through the city centre.

It will build up to a specially-commissioned outdoor stage show highlighting one of the most noted chapters of the city’s past.

The Unicorn in the Lion’s Keep is loosely set between the years 1568 and 1587 and focuses on events leading up to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and her time as a prisoner at Carlisle Castle.

Unusually, it is written from the perspective of a football commentator describing what’s unfolding – with the one-act production featuring some of the time’s most influential characters.

It’s been created by the team at Carlisle-based Lakeside Castings – written and directed by Mitch Bridgewater and produced and cast by the agency’s boss, Phil McKay.

The performance, to be staged in front of the Old Town Hall at 2.45pm, builds on the success of Lakeside’s acting workshops, featuring some performers who are part of that.

Jennifer Heron, 29, of Belle Vue, Carlisle, will play Queen Elizabeth and can’t wait to take to the stage.

“It’s going to be good. The pageant will create a nice atmosphere and the performance will tell a bit of history in the city centre. Hopefully people will stop to watch. It will be big enough that people will want to see what’s going on,” she said.

Frederick Burgess, 22, of Annan, is playing the part of a pundit giving their view on the history match as it unfolds. He said: “It’s a good script and the cast have real fun performing it.

“There’s a unique atmosphere from acting in front of a crowd of people rather than performing to camera. I’m looking forward to it.”

After overseeing some intense writing and preparation, Phil too is looking forward to the show.

“Mitch has put a lot of thought into the script and the show’s going to be fully costumed. It’s going to be a good live performance,” he said.

“I’m excited by it. I’m comfortable and confident about all the actors and I’d just encourage as many people as possible to come along and watch the show.”

Other main cast members are Simon Underdown, 56, of Cockermouth, who plays the presenter; Vicky Chandler, 25, who will be Mary Queen of Scots; and 12-year-old Harry Mossop, also of Carlisle, who is playing a football fan.

There are hopes that the puppet parade and stage show will give a big lift to the start of 10-day pageant celebrations – organised by Carlisle City Council – which will include the historic Great Fair proclamation next Saturday.

Tomorrow’s celebrations include a family fun day in the city centre, which will be followed by a Best of Carlisle Market and then an international market into next weekend.

The festival will also see a giant cake replica of Carlisle Cathedral pieced together.

Workshops to design and create the puppets have been held in association with Prism Arts.

City council leader Colin Glover said: “Preparations are well underway for the 10-day programme. We would like to thank all the partners, volunteers and pageant summer school participants for all their support.”

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