IF YOU go down to the woods today you are sure to get all kinds of surprises, that is if the woods are the ones featured in An Taibhdhearc’s upcoming panto Cochaillín Dearg (Little Red Riding Hood ) which is on next week at The Black Box.
Written by Maeve Ingoldsby, this promises to be a fantastic show for children and adults with lots of great characters and merry mayhem to enjoy. We meet Sadie who is trying to organise a village festival but there is something suspicious going on in the woods. Tomás the woodsman cries wolf and Red Riding Hood and her granny could be in danger. And when Fiach Ó Gránna the county councillor gets involved all is not what is seems.
During a break in rehearsals, director Seamus Hughes, expands on what audiences can expect from the show.
“It’s a modern spin on Little Red Riding Hood,” he says. “In our story Sadie, who is the Dame character, is Cochaillin’s mother and is organising an arts festival to compete with the Galway Arts Festival in order to drum up some business for her ailing bistro in the village beside the woods.
“She has to get the corrupt county councillor Fiach O’Gránna onside to get a grant. Meanwhile there is something strange going on in the forest but Sadie is trying to keep it all hush hush in case it interferes with tourism. We end up with a bunch of zombies, some manic Irish dancers, lion-tamers, and all sorts of madness ensues. We’re having great fun with it so far, Maeve Ingoldsby has written a wonderful script for us, as she always does.
“There’s lots of music and dance as well. The zombies have a routine of their own for instance. It has all the magic and colour you’d expect from a panto. Morgan Cooke is our musical director and he’s composed most of the music we use in the show and he’s come up with some great songs for us. There are a couple of parodies there as well, such as ‘The Pub with No Beer’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘Pokerface’.”
The show features a cast of 30 performers, including 20 schoolchildren recruited from the city’s Gaelscoileanna.
“The kids are fantastic, full of talent and energy,” Hughes enthuses. “That’s another aspect of panto that is vitally important for us, it can be children’s first introduction to theatre and it’s something fun and colourful and positive.”
The cast also features an array of acting stalwarts from stage and television. “We have a strong cast,” Hughes asserts. “Linda Breathnach is Cochaillin, Peadar Cox plays Sadie, Eoin Mac Diarmada is the Big Bad Wolf, Seán Mistéal is Tomás the Woodsman, Uinseann Mac Thómais and John Forde play two dogsbodies, and Gearóidín Mhic Thómais is Cochaillin’s grandmother.”
One other notable aspect of the production is that this could be the last An Taibhdhearc production staged ‘away from home’ with the Taibhdhearc’s own theatre having been closed for the past four years due to fire damage.
“We’re hoping the Taibhdhearc will re-open around April,” Hughes reveals. “The work is going very well there to get it ready. We still have some fundraising to do, we need to get another €100,000 so we’re doing things like selling seats and inviting people to sponsor costumes, lighting equipment and so on. The seats are being sold for €700 and the sponsor’s name will be on that seat for perpetuity and will also be listed in the theatre foyer. So we’re all looking forward to getting back there.”
In the meantime audiences can look forward to the delights of Cochaillín Dearg. It runs at the Black Box from this Tuesday to Sunday December 18, at 8pm nightly. There are also matinee performances at 3pm, on the Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are €10 from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie