Polmont actress starring in classic ‘tail’

Kara Swinney
Kara Swinney

There’s something fishy going on at Stirling’s Macrobert and Polmont actress and singer Kara Swinney is tangled up in it.

She’s landed the part of Ariel in the arts centre’s latest pantomime, The Little Mermaid – a classic ‘tail’, with a twist.

Kara graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in July, and since then she’s had a turbo(t) start to her career, landing the lead in a production of Annie Get Your Gun in Belfast.

She’s also found time to star alongside River City and Gary Tank Commander star Leah MacRae in the uproarious musical comedy ‘I Will Survive’, a touring production that follows a group of woman on a night out.

It’s been a dream start for the musical theatre graduate, who never expected to land a lead role so quickly.

“I went to the audition for Annie Get Your Gun thinking it would be good experience but it never crossed my mind that anything would come from it. I was so nervous because I got sent a lot of material to learn at short notice. I had five songs to learn and I had graduated by then so I couldn’t go to a teacher for help, so it was nerve-wracking.”

However, her degree in musical theatre from RCS stood her in good stead and she returned from Belfast with a string of fantastic 
reviews to her name.

Now, Kara’s delighted to be cast as Ariel, working with Johnny McKnight, who has won many fans for his witty, sparkling pantomimes at both Macrobert and Glasgow’s Tron Theatre.

This time he’s taking us to Oceana, a perfect world millions of miles underwater from Stirling Stella.

The story is loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson classic, rather than the Disney film, with a few modern songs, more than a few jokes and some outrageous costumes. Ariel is madly in love with the most feared and handsome pirate in all the pantosphere – Captain Spark Barrel. But could he ever love a woman who was, well, a fish?

Kara’s face lights up when she talks about the script.

“It’s hilarious! Johnny is absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t stop laughing when I was reading it.”

Johnny, who plays the Dame – Ariel’s mum – once again wrote the script and will direct.

Joining Kara and the other professionals are a group of Forth Valley youngsters who are getting a taste of being part of a pro production.

Josie Young, a Braes High pupil is part of the panto young cast for the second year.

She said: “I’ve adored being part of the panto, I have made so many life-long friends and it’s influenced me to continue on and study acting after school. The Macrobert is an overall good place to work, everyone is so friendly and it generally has a very welcoming feeling.”

Eve Mallon, from St Mungo’s High, is joining the young cast for the first time.

She said: “I’ve been coming to see the Macrobert Christmas Pantomimes for as long as I can remember so I finally decided to audition. It’s been a great experience and I’m having so much fun!”

The Little Mermaid opens at Stirling’s Macrobert Centre on November 25. Tickets are available from macrobertartscentre.org or the box office on 01786 466666.