THERE IS now less than a week to go to the opening performance of this year’s Renmore Panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, and excitement is building among all involved, none moreso than Richard Brown, who plays the lead role of Jack.
Originally from Meath, Richard is currently in the final year of the BA in theatre and performance at NUI Galway where he has been active on the campus theatre scene, directing shows for both Galway University Musical Society and Dramsoc. Richard has also appeared with the Galway Musical Society and the Patrician Musical Society. This is his third time performing with Renmore Panto, having previously featured in Robin Hood & Babes in the Wood and Cinderella, but Jack and The Beanstalk marks his debut in the leading role.
Ahead of Jack and The Beanstalk’s opening, Richard took time with me for a chat about the show and I began by asking him about where his passion for theatre came from. “My mam and dad are not into theatre at all,” he replies. “I think I got the theatre bug from my granny and just seeing different shows and different performers, and wanting to be like them, and to be on stage, that is where it all started. Before coming to Galway, I was in Gaiety School of Acting for six years and since moving here I’ve got into the musical scene with a few of the musical societies and got hooked basically.”
Does Richard see himself concentrating on musical theatre in the future? “I’m not really sure what I want to do any more!” he says candidly. “I have got into directing and writing as well but there is something about panto and musical theatre that keeps bringing me back, just the magic of creating a scene or a world onstage. I had never done any panto before coming to Galway. I only went to the Renmore auditions because a friend was going. I was shocked to get the part because I had no experience whatsoever so I had to learn from scratch, but it is great because the whole team works together and show you how to get your character across to the audience and how to act in it because panto is so different to any other form of theatre.”
Richard enlarges on the appeal of performing in panto; “The reaction you get from the audience in doing the show. We’re lucky with the panto here because we go out after the show to the audience meeting them and giving autographs and chatting with the children and they are telling you how they loved the show so much. It’s so real for them seeing the character alive and especially with it being for Christmas.”
I enquire what kind of character Jack is in the show and Richard’s reply first salutes the quality of Peter Kennedy’s script. “Peter’s writing is amazing to work with onstage because while he gives you a character he also leaves the lines for however you want to interpret them which is so good for an actor. My interpretation of Jack is as the loveable friend for the audience. He is a bit forgetful, a bit silly, he has high energy but he is completely in love with Rosie Moonbeams and he wants her to love him, and I am trying to make him as relate-able as possible to both the adults and the kids.”
Richard acknowledges the need for panto performers to be immensely versatile. “You really have to be a ‘triple trout’ doing panto, there is no hiding, you have to be able to sing and dance and do comedy, especially when playing the lead character. I love the way everyone here keeps you on your toes with lines and gags and there is a live band as well and the dancers are fantastic, it’s just a really cool thing to be involved in, everything comes together and everyone is at the top of their game, the Renmore Panto is a really good and proper panto!”
Jack and The Beanstalk features a host of well-known Galway performers, electrifying dance routines, lots of laughter and action, and, of course, the Renmore Smurfs in a seasonal feast of family entertainment. It runs at the Town Hall from December 29 to January 10, at 7.30pm nightly. There are also a number of matinee performances. Full details of show times and tickets are available at the Town Hall Theatre (091-569777, www.tht.ie ). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. See also www.renmorepantomime.com