Cast, chorus and crews are crucial
IT'S Thursday, January 10 and Killorglin CYMS is a hive of activity. Panto season is upon us again and with just days before the first performance, the cast, chorus and back stage crews are putting the finishing touches to this year's show, 'Mother Goose'.
It's an anniversary production, the 50th, so there's a big crew on board this year. Nooks and crannies in the backstage area have been commandeered and members are busy fine tuning. Upstairs the female chorus is belting out the hits, they're lifting the roof. Downstairs, Finbarr Coffey, Ger O'Connor, Colm Clifford, Kieran Flynn and the dame (Declan Mangan) are going over their lines.
There's no hint of a costume but we're told it's all "under control" and costumier Anne Mangan is putting the finishing touches elsewhere.
Finding a quiet hall way, relatively, we catch up with a few cast members.
Finbarr is in his 25th panto and this year he plays ' The Baron'. His first panto was 'Rumplestilskin' and he has fond memories of those early days.
"It was a wonderful time starting out as I was so young but I made lifelong friends," he recalls.
"I grew up with panto - it's just great fun as Christmas is over but there's still something to look forward to. I started in a small role but you serve your time and gradually the roles get bigger. The key to the show, I feel, is Declan (Mangan), he keeps a nice happy camp and long may it continue."
In her 20th panto, Hazel Devane is 'Mother Goose' this year and took part in her first show at just 18. She says the shows come at just the right time of year.
"It's set in mid winter and takes us away from work and problems - you just go into a world of 'cuckoo-land fantasy' and it's just great fun. A lot of the community is involved, there's great talent and every year there's new talent so you meet new friends as well as long time friends," she adds.
It's Irene Kavanagh's eighth panto and she first starred in 'Peter Pan' as a storyteller. She's director Declan Mangan's niece and so took just "a little persuasion" to get involved.
"I moved back to Kerry eight years ago and as Declan is my uncle I didn't have much of a choice," she says with a smile.
"My favourite role I suppose was Hoggy Slybagon in ' Three Little Pigs', I really enjoyed that. I was the good fairy in 'Snow White and The Seven Cromane Men' but I like doing either stupid or evil - I'm evil this year so it's great," she adds.
One of the younger cast members, Aoife Flynn is in her third panto and plays the good fairy this year.
"It's a real community thing, a brilliant distraction from school and everything," she exclaims.
"The amount of work that goes into it is huge yet it's still so much fun. You practice so hard and by the time the show comes on it all comes together," she adds.
Originally from Denmark, Lisa Corkery moved to Killorglin in 1992 and is celebrating her 10th panto.
"It's only in the last few years that I've started showing my face on stage as I was making costumes before that.
"It's a community thing and for me as a blow-in it's a great opportunity to meet the locals and get to know the people who make Killorglin special."
Aidan Clifford's character this year is 'Freddie', a 'serious and romantic' role it's a far cry from last year's slot as a comic.
"The first year I was petrified going on stage and so going to the pub afterwards was the highlight of the night," he reveals.
"Then last year that disappeared and I loved being on stage and hopefully this year it will be the same. I'm not sure how I got involved, I kind of got volunteered by someone if you know what I mean," he adds.
Watching on, Hazel interjects: "We were looking for one big stoopid head before yer man landed," she shouts
"And 20 people said I know the fella," Aidan retorts.
The laughter rings out - no sign of nerves. Everything is under control in Killorglin and panto number 50 is ready for action.