Friday 27 April 2018

Ingredients for the perfect panto

Declan Mangan (right) has written about 40 pantomimes -- in fact he's been scripting them since the 1960s.

The chairman of the renowned Puck Fair for 20 years, he has penned around 40 of the 48 Killorglin Christmas pantos which have run -- with some breaks -- since 1958 in the Co Kerry village and other locations.

A retired primary teacher and well-known comedian, the 67-year-old has acted in all of them, and has assumed the role of Dame -- false eyelashes, heavy make-up, size eight heels and all -- in more than 40 performances.

He strongly believes that of all the ingredients in a good pantomime, the storyline takes top priority.

"The story is crucial. If the story is good you'll get their attention -- if the story is weak you'll lose them."

The perfect panto must incorporate 10 elements:

  • A strong main plot -- usually hinging on the theme of good versus evil.
  • A colourful sub-plot, generally based around the romantic trials of two star-crossed lovers.
  • A Dame and two comics, to interact with the audience and keep everyone laughing.

"This year for our 'Three Little Pigs' pantomime, the comics are Iggy and Hoggy, who are the Wolf's lackeys," Mangan explains.

  • A quest for a missing person or thing -- somebody or something has been stolen or kidnapped and must be found.
  • Unexpected twists: "I throw in some surprises. For example, placing parts of the panto in unexpected locations," says Mangan.
  • Song and dance routines: "We'd usually have nine or 10 song and dance routines in our panto."
  • The triumph of good over evil.
  • Audience interaction: "In the 'Three Little Pigs', for example, the audience is invited to huff and to puff and blow the houses down!"
  • A parody of events that happened during the year: "Events of note, such as sporting, political, local or international events are included in our Dame's parody at the end of the show. This is usually a funny song which is a comment on the events of the year gone by."

Irish Independent

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