ONCE upon a time, in a panto land just off the M8, two young men found themselves the stars of the show…

Pantomania continues to hold Glasgow in its grip – and local talent is bringing the house down.

Actor Jatinder Singh, 21, and 18-year-old street dance champion Robert McColl have roles in two of the city’s biggest festive shows – Cinderella at the Citizens, and The Wizard of Never Woz, at the Pavilion.

For Jatinder, landing a part in the Citizens’ Christmas show as the kitchen boy who steals Cinderella’s heart, was a little like life mirroring art

“I was working at the Citizens in the front of house team on an internship,” he smiles. “It’s a great opportunity - one drama student a year gets the chance to come in and work at the theatre.

“But it feels a bit unreal to actually be on the stage.”

The drama school graduate, who studied acting at New College Lanarkshire, was spending a year working at the theatre while completing his course.

“I did a couple of auditions for other things and was unlucky - but I must have impressed someone somewhere along the line because they asked me to prepare a monologue to try out for a part in Cinderella,” explains Jatinder, who is from Baillieston.

“It was third time lucky – I got a phonecall on my last day of college to say I had the part. I felt really emotional because it’s such a big thing to be part of. I remember calling my mum to tell her I’d got a job!”

Jatinder’s love of drama was inspired by his teachers at Bannerman High in the east end.

“I had great drama teachers, and I always loved performing and making people laugh,” he says. “My first ever role on stage was playing Julius Caesar in a school production.

“That’s quite a big role for a first one, come to think of it. I loved the energy of being on stage and of getting a reaction from people.”

However, Jatinder’s other love is rugby and for a while, it was a close call as to which he would choose to pursue when he left school.

“I was doing pretty well at rugby and I think everyone thought I’d go down that route, but my passion is for acting,” he says.

Jatinder lives with his mum Satiner, who is a shop assistant, dad Kulbir, who is a chef, and sister Sonia, who is a make-up artist.

“They are all very supportive of me,” he says. “They really understand acting is what I want to do. I don’t really know where it comes from, as I don’t think there are any actors in our family. I’ve just always enjoyed it.”

Jatinder has already had a string of roles inside and outside college – including a spot on BBC comedy show Scot Squad.

“That was so much fun – I don’t know when it will be shown, but I loved it,” he smiles.

“But being part of the Citz family is really special.

“One of the first shows I ever saw was at the Citizens and I really loved the style of it and the atmosphere inside the theatre – everyone is so friendly, it’s like a family.”

The Citizens announced major redevelopment plans recently, which will include repairing and revealing the Victorian auditorium at the heart of the site; its rare collection of original 19th-century stage machinery and a unique example of a working Victorian paint frame.

The £19.4m project will also explore and celebrate the fascinating social and cultural heritage of the Citizens Theatre Company and the building’s history.

“The Citizens Theatre is like nothing else in Glasgow,” says Jatinder.

“The redevelopment is really exciting and will really put the theatre on the map.

“And it does such a lot of great community work which is amazing. That’s what theatre is to me – bringing people together.”

He adds: “Glasgow has such a rich arts and culture scene and the Citizens is a massive part of that so I’m really glad to be here.”

In the city centre, young dance star Robert McColl has swapped the ‘street’ for the stage.

He has a demanding role in the Pavilion panto, the Wizard of Never Woz and while it is a world away from the style of dance he is used to, he still gets to incorporate some of his street dance artistry.

“I’m one of the older dancers, so I do lots of tricks, break-dancing and so on,” says Robert, who first took up dancing in Coatbridge at the age of eight.

“It’s hard work but I’m really enjoying it.”

Robert was crowned the under-16 street dance world champion three years ago, when he triumphed at the 10th UDO World Street Dance Championships in the SECC.

More than 6000 people from 30 countries took part in the intense competition, so it was a huge deal for the then 15-year-old to take the title.

He had already been named Scottish and British champion in the same year.

“It was incredible,” he said. “I was so happy to win.”

It was Robert’s dance teacher Stephanie Fulton, at MAD Studios in Coatbridge, who suggested the teenager for the role at the Pavilion.

“Stephanie put me forward because she thought I’d be good and I’m really grateful, it’s been brilliant,” he says.

“I’m used to competitive dancing, so I wasn’t sure what this would be like, but being up on stage and being able to show people the skills I have has been great.

“I like performing a lot more than I thought I would!”

Cinderella at the Citizens Theatre runs until Sunday (December 31) and The Wizard of Never Woz is at the Pavilion until January 14.