Published: 10/04/2014 17:53 - Updated: 09/04/2014 18:05

Russell is a shoe in for Gang Show glamour

Gang Show veteran Russell Lees.
Gang Show veteran Russell Lees.

HE is an unlikely candidate for the role of the Imelda Marcos of Raigmore, but Russell Lees admits with a laugh he might justifiably be called that.

The obstetrician and gynaecology consultant may fall some way short of the rumoured 7500 pairs alleged to have been owned by the wife of the former Philippine dictator, but he has still managed to amass an impressive collection of glam footwear.

The shoes from this collection are put to use every couple of years at Eden Court as part of the Inverness Area Scouting Association Gang Show, including this year’s show.

"Often there was a bit of a laugh about being in the maternity theatre in Raigmore one week and another kind of theatre the next," he said.

"In the past I’ve played roles like Marilyn Monroe and Cher and you need elegant shoes for that, but there are not many high heels size eight!

"I’ve had patients some into the hospital in the past and say: ‘I’ve a wee present for you — this pair of size eights, See what you think.’ Carrying high heels on a ward has always bee a source of some amusement."

He will be back in the Gang Show this week, including Saturday’s matinee which marks the 75th Gang Show performance at Eden Court since the first of these just over 30 years ago in 1983 — and Russell, along with fellow veteran Andy Thursby (74), has been in them all."

"I didn’t realise that — to have done 75 performances on the stage at Eden Court is interesting to say the least," he said.

"There were Gang Shows earlier on, but the Eden Court Gang Shows in their present format started in 1983. I, for my sins, have participated in them all on stage.

"I’d never done anything like that before and they were simply looking for adult leaders to support the youngsters. That was the main reason I got involved, just to be a background support.

"The real stars of the show are the kids. We are really lucky because we never audition for our Gang Show, unlike some others, but they bring a tremendous amount of talent and enthusiasm."

Like several of fellow Scout leaders, Russell has been a fixture of the comedy sketches that appear between the bigger set-piece moments of the show to give the youngsters time to get ready.

As well as Cher and Marilyn Monroe, he has also popped up in the guise of air stewardesses and waitress and in a sketch inspired by Riverdance star Michael Flatley — "But more like Michael Flatfoot," he added.

"It’s really because of the camaraderie that develops that I come back year after year. You are kind of seeing things from a youthful perspective — but I suppose that’s why I’ve stayed active in Scouting.

"You develop the mindset of the youngster who is active in Scouting and I’m grateful to just be part of that youthful enthusiasm. It helps keep me young — if only in spirit!"

Though at 66, Russell admits his days of portraying female sex symbols may now be behind him.

"I’ve now got to the stage where my only appearance is as an old washerwoman," he revealed.

"The days of Marilyn Monroe are long gone, I regret."

•The 2014 Inverness Area Gang Show is at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, until Saturday with evening shows at 7.30pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

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