WHILE THE ongoing recession and latest bruising Budget may put a dampener on folk’s Yuletide mood, at least the Renmore Pantomime can be relied upon to spread a generous helping of festive cheer when it takes over the Town Hall Theatre.
This year’s offering, the 34th annual Renmore pantomime, is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it promises a spectacular adventure of laughter, music, and song, scripted by Peter Kennedy and directed by Brian and Sean Power.
Wicked Queen Gumboil (Katie Creaven) believes she is beautiful and frequently consults her magical mirror with the familiar words: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
Her plans to marry the handsome Prince Perfect (Declan Gardiner) are sent awry when Snow White (Aoife Kilbane) arrives in the Kingdom accompanied by her impoverished parents, the Duke and Duchess of Craughwell (Paul Hughes and Amanda Stuart Heaney). Snow White meets Prince Perfect on his way to the Palace and he is instantly smitten by her.
The Queen is furious when she hears about Snow White and plots to kill her romantic rival. However, through many original, hilarious, and surprising elements, the Good Fairy (Katie O’Flynn) and the Seven Dwarfs ensure the Queen is thwarted and that love triumphs over wickedness.
Ahead of the show’s opening, Aoife Kilbane took time to talk about how preparations are going and what audiences can look forward to.
“We began rehearsals at the start of October and they’ve been going brilliant,” she begins. “There is a lot of work as there are 14 in the principal cast. There’s lots of different angles to cover to get the show just right. We usually start with the acting first, getting the scenes in order and our positions on stage and all that.
“At the same time, the choreographers are working with the dancers. Before we break for Christmas we all join up and try and slot it all together – we’d have known where the dances were to fit in but now we have to see it all come into play and figure out how we interact with them and get on and off stage.
“I’ll have to learn a couple of dance numbers too so that’s extra rehearsals but it’s a really fun show and it stays true to the movie that all the kids will know.”
A second year nursing student, Kilbane is active in NUIG’s musical society and has also appeared with the Galway Musical Society, Encore Musical Society, and Galway Youth Theatre. She outlines some of the highlights audiences can expect in Snow White.
“There’s the big scene between Queen Gumboil and Snow White, with the poisoned apple, that’s really good. The scenes with the seven dwarves are particularly funny. Peter Kennedy as the Panto Dame is great again. There are also some brilliant dancing scenes with Prince Perfect; Declan is very funny in the role, he’s this arrogant prince who fancies himself a bit and has some great routines.”
With 20 shows in just over two weeks, the panto can be gruelling for the performers, but Kilbane is undaunted by the prospect.
“The run can be tiring, you can have four shows over a weekend,” she says. “It’s exhausting but you’re on that adrenaline rush because the audiences are so superb and very interactive, especially the kids. So you’re always looking forward to doing it and seeing what the next audience will bring. The panto is such a traditional thing in Galway and you’ll usually know someone or spot someone at it and that’s part of the fun of it all too.”
Away from the stage, how does Aoife find trying to fashion a career in our much-beleaguered health system?
“We’re shielded from some of the pressures of the health sector because we’re doing so many lectures and exams but when we are out on the wards you do get a feel for the stress that everyone is under,” she replies. “But everyone in UHG works as a team, they’re not giving out to each other, everyone is trying to shoulder the different responsibilities. These have definitely been trying times, there’s no denying that.”
Would she consider doing as many other Irish health professionals are doing and emigrating? “Nearly all the fourth year nurses I know have decided to go to England next year,” she notes. “It is a real option for us because we’ve been told since the start of our degree there is little chance of us getting work here. I wouldn’t mind going away for a while but all my interests are here so it would be hard to leave altogether and staying here would be my first option.”
As one wishes her luck in her nascent nursing career, in the meantime there’s Aoife’s panto performance to look forward to.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs at the Town Hall Theatre from December 29 to January 13 with show times on different days at 12 noon, 2.30pm, 4.30pm, and 7.30pm. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie