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Monday, November 3, 2008

Glasgow Cabaret Festival at the Panopticon

the Panopticon, glasgowGLASGOW is to host its first cabaret festival to raise cash to restore Britain's oldest surviving music hall.

The week-long festival will include a mix of theatre, cabaret and saucy burlesque - reinvented by glamorous performer Dita Von Teese.

The event, from July 5-12 next year, has been organised to help fund the restoration of the grade A-listed Panopticon building in Argyle Street.

Organisers are also hoping to stage a number of shows in the historic Trongate venue.

Organisers hope the event will lead to the festival becoming a permanent fixture on Glasgow's cultural calendar.

Burlesque includes a mixture of variety, comedy, drama, dancing and striptease and was popular during the early 1920s.

In recent years it has enjoyed a resurgence across the UK fuelled by high profile performers including Dita Von Teese who is famed for a routine in which she dances in a giant martini glass.

Glasgow already hosts a popular monthly burlesque club night, Club Noir.

The festival has been organised by city-based theatre group Rhymes with Purple Productions which stages a number of cabaret themed events around Glasgow.

Organisers are hoping to attract high profile international performers including US burlesque star Kitten on the Keys, who recently toured with cult band the Damned.

Creative director Louise Oliver said: "The Glasgow Cabaret Festival is going to take artists who are rarely recognised by funding bodies because their art form is deemed obscure and give them a platform.

"Glasgow has a rich history of vaudeville and music hall. Right on our doorstep we have the world's oldest surviving Victorian music hall.

"The restoration of this building is very important to us."

Built in 1857, the Panopticon was originally called the Britannia Music Hall.

Legendary comedian Stan Laurel and actor Cary Grant both performed on its stage and it also housed freak shows, waxworks, carnivals and travelling zoos.

The rise of cinema and the depression of the 1930s saw the Panopticon finally close.

The venue is now the focus of a restoration project to restore it to its former glory.

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