The Portlaw Musical Society celebrated their 30th Pantomime – Robinson Crusoe – in glorious style, with one of the most attractive, exuberant and colourful productions, presented with attack, great humour and excellent entertainment. To add to the wonderful sense of occasion, it had onstage two of the founding members, Freddy Kelly and Freddie Laffan, who has the impressive distinction to have appeared in all those thirty shows. I salute them and the community in Portlaw saluted and celebrates them with torrents of applause and bursts of laughter.
In one scene, Freddy Kelly broke the barrel off a handgun during a scene. Quick as a flash he ad-libbed – it’s a sawn off sun!
Nicky Cummins, the doyen of panto, and a legend in entertainment directed this show with flair and fun and he managed to persuade stars of previous years to return in splendid cameo parts in an amazing mime sequence that had me helpless with laughter and admiration.
From the moment you entered The Premier Hall, the buzz was there and Ann and Buddy Nolan had decorated the entrance area like a Pirate’s cave and continued the design all the way down the walls of the Hall. Their stage design was effective and fun and Thomas Larkin knitted it all together.
I had a ball in a full hall and enjoyed the banter, the full-on routines, excellent dance scenes set by Grace Ryan and the wonderful kiddies scenes, such a fine tradition of community shows choreographed by Faith Mulcahy Drohan. Steve Bailey was an active musical director and the Professor of the Drums, Jarleth McKenna, rattled more than musical pots and pans. The Chairman, Pat Maher, even sang in the pit.
The audience, the community, played their part too with generous support, wild applause and hilarious laughter.
The show got off to a happy start and the mayhem unfolded. Ann Nolan was a word-perfect Fairy Coral and Ann Marie Aylward was a dramatic Demon Jones who cranked up the baddie stuff.
Jamie Power was every inch the attractive male lead, as Robinson and he shone in his many scenes and duets with the beautiful and talented Lillian Keyes as Polly Perkins. James Walsh was an hilarious Man Friday and Siobhan Walsh as Marina The Mermaid had a show-stopper with a quality song – Part Of Your World.
The audience loved the work of Hayley Fitzsimons and cheered her vigorously. Derek Laffan was an impressive dame, Mrs. Crusoe and Darren Butler was a firm favourite and entertaining Billy Crusoe. He lights up the stage such is his commitment to the show.
Stephanie McGuire was outstanding as Becky Bouncer and her part in the power duet, I Know Him So Well with Lillian Keyes was excellent. Kyle Crotty added a flute solo to his many cameos, along with Paul Kelly, Derek Delaney, Pat O’Regan, Fred Kelly Junior, Emmett Cullinane, Kieran Laffan and Ronnie Moore.
Jonathan Walsh was a strong Captain Perkins but it was the ace-funsters who brought this panto to professional standards of entertainment. David Walsh was a dashing madcap Cee to Freddie Laffan’s hilarious Suck and they fed each other comic routines to confuse the audience, as henchmen to Freddy Kelly’s tour-de-force, as pirate chief, Will Atkins.
I was helpless with laughter for their Ten Guitars, their quality, parody and the high energy, high jinks they served up, routine after routine.
The finale started with an amazing old-style Mime sequence, that bettered Bryan Flynn’s panto dash-abouts. The chorus rocked the hall with You Can’t Stop The Beat. Hold My Hand was tender and sharing and the traditional rhyming couples was nostalgic before We Are The World brought a tear to many an eye.
Portlaw, at its musical best.