A former member of The Singing Kettle is retiring from theatre touring after almost four decades of entertaining families across the country.
Gary Coupland, now of Funbox, plans to “slow down and enjoy some free time for once”.
He said: “I was part of The Singing Kettle for 30 years and Funbox for nearly six.
“As much as it’s been a pleasure and a privilege, I feel like it’s time for me to step away from life on the road, slow down and enjoy some free time for once.”
Mr Coupland, who was awarded an MBE for his services to children’s entertainment in 2000, runs Funbox with Anya Scott-Rodgers and Kevin Macleod.
As well as performing, the trio also have to deal with the day-to-day admin of the family singalong show.
Mr Coupland said: “People ask us at our weekend performances what we do on our days off and we reply, ’this is our day off.’”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of theatres, there will be no final onstage fling for Funbox’s Music Man. However, Christmas show Santa’s Big Surprise will be streamed online throughout December.
Funbox will continue under Ms Scott-Rodgers and Mr Macleod. Joined by Bonzo the dog, the team said they are looking forward to a fully-booked 2021.
Ms Scott-Rodgers said: “Naturally we’re gutted that Gary is retiring from performing with us.
“Funbox is our creation and it feels like the end of an era with one of the founding members leaving.”
Ms Scott-Rodgers, who joined The Singing Kettle two years before its closure in 2015, added: “But despite everything this year has thrown at us, Kevin and I are delighted to be carrying on with Gary’s support.”
Although no longer a part of the company, Mr Coupland still intends to help with the music that brings a Funbox show to life.
Mr Macleod joked: “My musical talents go as far as the kazoo, so it’s good we can still work with Gary.”
Mr Coupland said he will miss the audience and all those who have supported the shows over the years.
He added: “You made going to work so enjoyable. But I’m thrilled Funbox is continuing without me. Thank you to all our Funboxers, young and old.”