From the modern, opening chorus, of – I gotta feelin’ that tonight’s gonna be a good good night – I knew that the audience were in for a treat at the New Ross Panto, The Little Mermaid. Twelve dancing girls in colourful metallic dresses, accompanied a fine pop singer and this line-up interspersed the dialogue scenes to great modern effect. Added to this a glorious sense of unpredictable live theatre, with a young boy in the audience who shouted up the funniest things to have the audience in knots of laughter and it kept the cast on their toes too.

This is a difficult panto, with land-based scenes in a castle and underwater scenes in Neptune’s kingdom and Terry Brennan’s wonderful settings and Paul Malone’s lighting created wonderful moods and shimmers. Terry Brennan was Queen Hypochondria as well and he carried lots of dialogue and craziness in sequences that sometimes were slower than they needed to be and the action got a bit stop-go, but the audience loved it.

Stephen Kehoe added to the fun as Lord Chamberlain as did Gerry Ryder as King Marmaduke. Joe Malone was a great Baddie, Boris, well supported by Amy O’Brien as his scheming daughter, Ingrid. Carrie McCracken was a demonic octopus, Octavia and Sean Miley was fun as Neptune. Kathlyn O’Connor was a beautiful Oceana and Niamh Cullen was splendid as the Mermaid Marina who saves, then falls in love with, the Prince.

Ellen Lawlor was excellent as Prince Stefan. But it was the madcap antics of Linda Grace Cox as Heidi and the excellent comedic skills of David “Stoney” Burke as Baldrick that brought the show to great heights with side-splitting routines and good old-fashioned slapstick.

Jim Furness, Keith Flanagan and Nigel O’Neill added much to the night’s fun.

Carmel Rowe directed and Anne Marie Stafford’s choreography was exciting, challenging and created modern moods to entertain. The Costume Warehouse provided excellent dance costumes and wonderful sea creatures as well. Sound was iffy as it often is in New Ross.

The script was by NODA expert, Ron Hall and I remember him giving a panto workshop in new Ross for Ross, Carrick and Waterford panto casts and it was a memorable experience, way back when . . .


Watch out for Canaries, the Bernard Farrell comedy from New Ross Drama Workshop on 18 to 20 February and Bill Stafford will direct The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas for the Musical Society from 2 to 6 March.