Friday 24 January 2020

'Our home' - generations of actors hail Olympia Theatre

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Emile Laurac

Stars past and present of the stage have described Dublin's Olympia Theatre as "our home" as they celebrate its 140th anniversary.

One of the child stars who performed on stage with the theatre's first ever panto dame, Jack Cruise - a man who had saved the theatre from demolition - is today producing 'Cinderella' and watching his own children perform in the panto.

"I was a boy of six and seven when I was on stage with Jack in the late '70s, as one of the first Olympia kiddies," said Stuart O'Connor.

"I was doing what my own children Dillon (12) and Luke (8) are doing now, singing songs and performing in numbers."

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Mr O'Connor, who is also the performance producer for 'The Late Late Toy Show', said Christmas is an "extremely hectic time of year for me".

"The Olympia is our home, our family, as actors, performers and for all those involved in the creation of the shows. Once you're involved in the Olympia panto, it's hard to ever leave it. We all love bringing Christmas to Dublin and the country every year, no matter how busy we are."

The star of this year's panto, 'Fair City' actor Ryan Andrews, first stepped on to the Olympia stage 10 years ago as a child actor.

It opened its doors as Dan Lowrey's Star of Erin Music Hall on December 22, 1879 - 140 years ago yesterday. In the 1960s, Cruise, along with fellow directors, saved the venue from closure.

A group of businessmen had bought the building and were planning to tear it down and build an office block.

Cruise and his colleagues, made contact with the new owners and secured a lease. They formed a new company, Olympia Productions Limited, ensuring the future of panto stars for decades to come.

Irish Independent

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