As rehearsals for the Dean Crowe Theatre’s new year pantomime, Treasure Island, enter their final stages, the cast, under the watchful glare of Kori Kilduff, director, and Claudia O’Sullivan, choreographer, are busy “crossing their eyes and dotting their teas” for what promises to be a rip-roaring romp.
With a multitude of children and young adults involved in many show-stopping numbers, it is the hapless bunch of woebegone actors who play the principal characters that need most directorial attention. No strangers to the Athlone stage, they are destined to end up like the treasure in the panto’s title, hidden away in a forgotten island with no hope of discovery.
The plot revolves around a sorrowful group of tavern dwellers who find a map left behind by an old sea-dog named Billy Bones, played with startling aplomb by Ollie Berry. Leading this group is Jim Hawkins played by Banagher’s street minstrel Jared Madden. His mother, Dilly, is played by Musical Society veteran Mick Keena. Bankrolling the expedition to find the hidden treasure is Squire Trelawney, a role which was valiantly fought for by local radio host Jason Gill. Completing the bunch of landlubbers are Rum and Raisin played by travelling song and dance duo Malcolm Whelan and Kieran Kilduff.
Hot on the trail of the treasure seekers are the conniving band of old pirates whose sniff of a fortune brings them out of retirement. Leading the pack is the fearsome Long John Silver played by John McGlynn who has recently completed a nationwide tour in a highly acclaimed theatrical presentation. Among his motley mob are Blind Pew, played by a highly myopic Joe MacCarrick, Israel Hands, performed by the international busker Bernard Coyle and Scurvy Steve played by Aonghus Dempsey who is celebrating the fact that this year he has more than three words to say.
These rambling misfits finally contract a band of sea-faring maidens from the good ship Irish Rover skippered by the suave swashbuckling Captain Deck, played by Linda Murray who encourages the command “All hands on Deck!” Her crew of Willing and Able are acted by Patrice Coyle and Mags Mulligan who more than live up to their character names as they give Rum and Raisin the chase up and down the gangway. Also on board is the ship’s nurse, Matron Bendover played by John McGee who injects quite a bit of spice into proceedings.
The ship finally docks on Christmas Island and all disembark into the hands of the natives. Major stage diva, Joan Larkin plays Queen Latifah who has to calm the gods through her witch-doctor, Odious, played by Ann Hoey, who also recently completed a nationwide tour in a highly acclaimed theatrical presentation. Linda Berry dons a grass skirt to play Coco and no panto is complete without the princess, Noelle, played by Eimear MacCarrick.
The entire company could easily be mistaken for a washed-up episode of I’m a celebrity, get me out of here. Come and see the plot unfold as the fun and frolics roll out. Curtain up on Thursday January 12 to Saturday January14 at 7.30pm with matinee performances on Saturday January 14 and Sunday January 15 at 2.30p.m.
For more information log on to www.deancrowetheatre.com