There are things about Waterford you can always depend on: a nice, floury blaa is one, a large bottle off the shelf is another, so too is the pantomime in Portlaw.
Starting this Wednesday at 8pm and running through to a matinee on Sunday next, February 1st at 3pm, ‘Sinbad the Sailor’ will have the young and the young at heart giggling aplenty at the Premier Hall.
This panto, written by the one and only Dick Meany, was first staged in the Tannery Town back in 1985, with Sinbad also re-appearing in ‘the village’ for ‘Sinbad & The Vampire’ in 1998.
Now, for a third different decade, Sinbad, played by Society Chairman Jamie Power, resumes life on the ocean wave on board a ship skippered by Captain Colombo (Derek Laffan).
During his latest adventure, Sinbad encounters a host of wild and wonderful characters, including Selina (Niamh Doherty), Princess Aisling (Lillian Keyes), as well as Mother Salubria and Whitey Snow (the Freddies Laffan and Kelly).
Along the way, our hero also crosses paths with Prince Rory (Darren Butler), Peri of the Ruby Ring (Ann Nolan), Chamberlain (Kieran Laffan), Jack (Darren Foran), Sultana Cake (James Walsh), as well as the villainous Count Draculation (David Walsh) and Muscles (Anthony Power).
Directorial duties this year are once again manned by the indomitable Nicky Cummins, the doyen ‘par excellence’ of Waterford pantomime.
Jennifer White, who has worked with a variety of local groups, including De La Salle, Flaggy Lane and the Waterford Pantomime Society was brought on board as choreographer for the first time this year.
Singer/songwriter Steve Bailey is musical director for the eighth successive year, while Faith Mulcahy Drohan has once again put the panto’s ‘Tiny Tots’ through their dancing paces.
Since 1980, the winters in Portlaw have been made all the shorter thanks to panto rehearsals in both the Community Centre and Premier Hall. It remains the only annual civic event that truly brings the town and its environs together.
Here’s a few statistics for you: almost 90 performers – young and not so young, appear on the stage during the pantomime. A cast, literally of thousands, has kept the show on the road for all these fun-filled years.
Throw in another 30 or so volunteers, be they committee members, front of house, ticket sellers, set designers, etc and you’ve got some idea of the depth of community involvement that’s at work here.
It’s a truly marvellous effort, one that’s been replicated each year since 1980, a fitting testament to the society’s founders and to all, both alive and deceased, who have made Portlaw Musical Society such a great local bedrock.
The Society’s annual production continues to be staged thanks to its patrons, sponsors, advertisers and, in particular, the Combined Alpha Lotto – the society’s financial lifeblood.
The closure of the Tannery back in 1984 marked a dark chapter in Portlaw’s history. And in a town bypassed by the Celtic Tiger, the pantomime sustained the village’s spirit.
That it’s continued to keep us singing, dancing, laughing and clapping, while also wondering if we’d win a raffle prize during all those years, is to its eternal credit. Long may it reign!
‘Sinbad the Sailor’ runs at the Premier Hall from Wednesday, January 28th (8pm) through to the Sunday matinee which commences at 3pm. For bookings, call 086-0519210, available from 3 to 5.30pm. Up the Village!