SUMMER panto? Surely that doesn’t work? Panto is all about December trips to the King’s, sitting in damp clothes, your head mixed up like a snow globe from wondering what to buy for your partner, knowing if you get it wrong you’re toast.

Oh no it’s not. Certainly not at Oran Mor where the Play, Pie and a Pie panto has been running longer than Boris Johnson’s list of Brexit options, but is a whole lot funnier.

This year’s hot panto is Dracula: Revamped, by John and James Kielty and stars George Drennan as the undead Count, an actor without whom an Oran Mor panto doesn’t quite come alive.

Drennan is ideal for the Bela Lugosi/Christopher Lee role, all dark eyes and scaffold-high cheek bones.

He can leap between menacing and mischievous in an instant, which is why he starred at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow last season as Abanazar in Aladdin.

The actors is certainly looking forward to getting his teeth into Dracula. “I loved the old Peter Cushing movies when I was younger,” he says, smiling. “And I love Oran Mor pantos, being adults only. When you do children’s panto there are times you’re screaming to swear.”


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Dracula: Revamped sees the Count steal a beautiful young woman Nina (Ashley Smith )away from the hero Jonathan, (Darren Brownlie) and after a quick love bite she becomes his vampire bride. But Jonathan (somehow) steals her back, and kills the Count. But this is no good. For one thing, you need Dracula on stage in a panto about the vampire. For another, Nina is still in thrall of Dracula. And just as importantly, tourism hasn’t been the same since the Count was offed.

And so Dracula is resurrected. But will Nina be freed from his spell –Will Dame Igorette (Angela Darcy) emerge with every imaginable neck-biter of a gag?

Coincidentally, it was Dracula who first stuck the incisors of acting interest into 15 year-old George Drennan’s neck. “Our school (in Kilmarnock) staged a Dracula Spectacular and I didn’t apply to join the cast. But when I saw it being performed I thought I’d missed out. It really looked fun.”

Young George was always more interested in music. His dad, a “joiner by day and a jazz drummer at night” bought his 13 year-old son a £1,000 Bach Stradivarius trumpet on £30 a month HP, to allow him to follow in his footnotes.

However, in 1987Wildcat Theatre star Dave Anderson walked into the café the younger Drennan was working in at the time, and suddenly a career in acting seemed a possibility. Anderson encouraged the young hopeful onto the boards and the rest is history.

Yet, what of George Drennan’s dad? Did he bite into the idea of his son joining the Thespian team? “He wasn’t at all sure about the theatrical side of things,” says Drennan, smiling. “I remember landing a part in Forbes Masson show, Stiff. But I knew I had to take my dad for a drink to break the news to him of whom I was playing. ‘Dad. I’m actually playing a woman in this show.’ ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, son!’ ‘And I’ve got to wear a dress and high heels.’ ‘Oh, for f**** sake.’ “He was old school, my dad,” says Drennan, grinning.


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Drennan’s career has been colourful and varied. This year he’ll be appearing in new stage show Oor Wullie, as Paw.

“Twenty years ago I played the Handsome Young Prince at the King’s in Sleeping Beauty. Last year I was the Baddie. Time flies so quickly and that’s really scary.”

What’s scarier? Being so close to the Oran Mor audience you can smell their pie or the vastness of the King’s? “Both are scary, but Oran Mor is probably more forgiving if you forget a line.”

He laughs; “Mistakes at the King’s are more likely to have been rehearsed in advance.”

Drennan’s Dracula will play the trumpet. “But not the new £2,500 one I bought to replace my old one. It’s a £90 plastic one Oran Mor once bought me.” He adds, grinning; “It doesn’t sound quite as good as the Bach Strad but I’m not having a hairy werewolf hand hand me the new one.”

Dracula- Revamped: Oran Mor, until July