THE RENMORE Panto is an integral part of the Christmas season in Galway and this year sees the troupe marking its 20th anniversary with a glittering production of Beauty and the Beast at the Town Hall.
One man who has been there from day one is Joe McCarthy and, speaking about this year’s production, he began by recalling the panto’s beginnings in 1979.
“The badminton club in Renmore had the idea of doing a panto and they asked me to direct because I’d been doing Tops of the Town shows. We did Goody Two Shoes which was a huge success and we just kept going from there. It became a big community vehicle with casts of over 100 and every age group from five to 50.”
Joe directed the first 14 Renmore pantos and describes the show’s evolution thus:
“Each year we always try to be a little better than the year before. Over the years the technical aspects have come on a great deal – we started off performing in the Jes and now we’re in a state-of-the-art theatre with the Town Hall.
“We cast our net wider now as well; we had actors and dancers audition from all over the county for roles in this year’s show. The budget has come on a lot as well and now we can hire in sets and costumes from the UK.
“So overall there’s more professionalism in the show now than when we started. But while it’s wonderful looking back we’re always focused on the present because the show you’re doing is the one you’re living through.”
And so to this year’s production, Beauty and the Beast. It features a new script by Peter Kennedy, who once again plays the panto dame, that combines all the magic and wonder of the ageless tale, spiced up with topical and novel ingredients.
A mediaeval episode of Blind Date has dire consequences for Prince Leopold (Andrew Hawcroft ) when he doesn’t select for his date the evil witch, Azaria, played by You’re a Star winner Lucia Evans. She retaliates by turning him into a beast. However, love saves the day when Beauty and the magical Dr Freckle come to his rescue before the legendary Rose finally withers and dies.
The cast features a host of well known local artists including James Harris, Michelle Glynn, Shane Lennon, John McHugh, Katie Creaven, Marcus Wynne, Karl O’Doherty, and Simon Smith.
Exhilarating dancers, spectacular sets and costumes, and the delightful little Renmore Smurfs will ensure a feast of family entertainment directed by the award winning twins - Brian and Seán Power.
“We had a lot of fun with the script this year,” McCarthy notes, “And Lucia Evans is excellent as the baddie. I’m really looking forward to the first night because that’s always a magical experience when you get the audience in for the first time to see it.”
The panto runs for 22 performances (including eight matinees ) from December 30 to January 18 at Town Hall. Bookings are from 091 - 569777.
Joe McCarthy has also been instrumental in setting up the website www.renmorepantomime.com which is a marvellous resource/archive on the panto’s history so far.