Sunday 17 December 2017

Orla set to break a leg at Helix

Panto queen: Orla Jennings joins the cast for the first time as Jill. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Panto queen: Orla Jennings joins the cast for the first time as Jill. Photo: Tony Gavin.

It's panto season and the Helix is getting the ball rolling with Jack And The Beanstalk, running until January 10. Niall Sheehy, finalist in ITV's hit show Superstar and star of Les Miserables, Wicked and Miss Saigon, plays Jack, with an abundance of flair and wit. Eoin Cannon is Professor Ploncouer, and his hilarious sidekick Aidan Mannion, otherwise known as Howaya, is back for what will be his 500th-plus comic performance at the Helix.

Liam Butler will be donning rouge and giant eyelashes once again as Dame Lola, while Orla Jennings joins the cast for the first time as Jill.

Set in Ballybrutal, a town on its uppers, this version of Jack, produced by TheatreworX and co-written by Karl Harpur and Claire Tighe, gives the fairytale a funny, fast-paced, contemporary twist that works for grown-ups and kids alike.

And, after the success of last year's sensory friendly production, there will be an adapted performance on Tuesday, December 22, which includes no sudden noises or bangs, softer and brighter lighting and music at a discreet level. Christmas fun for everyone - which is absolutely as it should be.

Fun for all the family, and that's only the beginning

'Tis the season of Christmas festivals, of course, but one - Winterval in Waterford - looks ready to set a very high bar, with over 30 festive events, all at unique historic venues. Running until December 23, this annual festival is a mix-n-match of all that is wonderful about this time of year.

Santa's Grotto in the 12th century cavern-like medieval Undercrofts is particularly atmospheric, as is a Yuletide Viking celebration at the 13th century Greyfriars Church, or indeed the Vintage Fair at the urban village of Ballybricken.

And moving from the past to the techno-present, check out the spectacular free 3D light projection show featuring Keith Barry, an ice rink and elves workshop, along with the giant toy museum at City Hall, a Transformers and Star Wars exhibition, live animal crib, vintage Ferris wheel, Victorian carousel, free festive movie screenings and traditional storytelling sessions. Phew! Unmissable?

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