Mother Goose, the 28th production of the Portlaw Musical Society, at the Premier Hall last week, was a joyous and lively panto with lots of life, exciting tiny tots, a first class cast, oodles of fun, an amazing range of costumes, snappy one-liners, happy people and some excellent choreography by Megan Raggett and tots choreographer Faith Mulcahy Drohan.

The venue was warm and welcoming and there was a lovely sense of anticipation with the four man pit band playing entertaining tunes for fifteen minutes before the show started. Steve Bailey was MD and keyboards with Tony Doherty (guitar), Alan Coonagh (sax) and the maestro on drums was Jarlath McKenna.

Add to this a Dick Meany script and you could not go wrong. Director Mala Raggett got great performances from her cast and created many fine moments to delight a happy but demanding audience.

A lovely tiny tots sequence, Chim Chimney, got the show up up and away and these children wowed me in the second half with a skilful tap routine. The comic turns of brokers men, Give and Take, staked out their territory early on and gave notice of high jinks and funny routines. Jonathan Walsh was a Killinascully-type Give and james Walsh as Take, his equal in madcap behaviour, and they kept the fun bubbling along. The imcomparable Freddie Laffan, was Evil Baron Jasper, was excellent and this was his 28th Panto. What a record and what a showman!

Darren Foran was a glorious Gertie Goose and Derek Delaney and John Rockett were the funsters in the Horsey, skin part. Megan O’Brien was a beautiful June and David Power was a howl as the odd but fun Monsieur Jacques. His pronunciations were a running gag in the second half.

Louise Jacob as Fruity had a fine singing voice for You Can’t Hurry Love and Amy Norris impressed as a zany Cutie. Stephanie Maguire was a beautiful Jill, the love of Jack, who was played by Pat Maher, another super-trouper with a strong pleasing voice that he showed to great acclaim in his Home solo.

Anthony Power was excellent as the Dame Mother Goose and his antics were such fun and he had lots of dialogue, which he delivered with vim and punch. But, why, oh why, does he leave on his moustache? A young man, Darren Butler, played Simple Simon and he is something else; he lights up the stage, does routines spot-on, sings like an angel, and when he got a frog in his throat, he used it to get audience sympathy and this audience loved him.

The dancing chorus drove this show along in big numbers like Ring of Fire, Please Don’t Stop The Music and amazing 500 Miles to end Act One, a Can Can routine and a dancing treat from 42nd Street with Lauren Scanlon leading the singing. The opening of the finale was a stomping all-action We’re All In This Together and it summed up the happy entertaining cast and their commitment to community fun and enjoyment.

Thomas Larkin stage-managed and Breda Kiely managed and Nomac supplied the many many colourful costumes and Jackie 007 Kelly was a suave MC. Jamie Power was Chairman assisted by Freddie Kelly and