Stage manager Keith finds the student show relatively simple!

Stage manager Keith finds the student show relatively simple!

A fixture on the Aberdeen performance scene for more than 90 years, the student show is pretty familiar, relatively speaking, for stage manager Keith Donaldson.

For not only has the Aberdonian been involved in the annual charity fund-raising production for the past five years, he has now been joined by his brother-in-law Garry Watson as script editor and his niece, Garry’s daughter Rachael, making her stage debut in the show.

This year’s production is Mary Torphins – a parody of the much-loved Disney classic Mary Poppins – and runs at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen from Wednesday to Saturday, April 18 to 21.

Although a former Robert Gordon University student himself, Keith only became involved in the student show five years ago when he was first tasked with the job of managing students on stage.

But his credentials were impeccable – as director of his own company Sets in Motion, and owner of the Inverurie Panto production company, Trap 4, Keith brings a wealth of experience to the role of stage manager.

A police officer and published playwright, Garry was the ideal candidate for director Ryan Peacock when choosing this year’s script editor.

Having written the last four Inverurie pantomimes, and written lyrics for the last three student shows, Ryan jumped at the chance to have Garry use his writing skills on this year’s parody and Garry has loved the experience.

He described writing the script as both an honour and a great joy and drew similarities between the student show and panto.

“They are both musical comedies, and both require having large elements of local humour,” he pointed out. “Of course, being a West Coaster I require a bit of a guiding hand with the Doric!”

Luckily, daughter Rachael will not be looking to Dad for Doric tips as her stage character is the posh and out-spoken Rose Hill, mother of the family whom Mary descends upon as a nanny.

The 18-year-old Aberdeen University music student has been eager to join student show for many years and could not wait to audition this year.

Having previously appeared in her uncle Keith’s pantomimes at Inverurie, Rachael said: “So many people from Inverurie panto have gone on to star in student show that I couldn’t wait for my turn!”

And Mum’s clearly the word for Rachael’s acting career – for she has played a mother before – as Mrs Darling in the Peter Pan pantomime at Inverurie two years ago.

She laughed: “Seeing as Dad has written both scripts that I’ve played a mum in, I’m starting to worry that maybe I’m becoming a little too much like my own mum!”

Tickets for Mary Torphins are available online at, by phone at 01224 641122 and at Aberdeen Box Office at the Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre.

Posted on Monday 02 April

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