CINDERELLA, THIS year’s Renmore Pantomime, opens next week, and is sure to keep Galway audiences in festive humour throughout its two- week run from Monday December 29 to Sunday January 11.
Scriptwriter, and Panto Dame, Peter Kennedy has added a novel twist to the traditional story in that the Prince Charming Cinderella falls in love with is the son of King Donald Trumpet, who has recently bought a castle and golf links in Ireland. The Ugly Sisters try their hands at golf lessons, and the Wicked Queen Yvanna tries to throw a spanner in the works. She almost succeeds too, but for the intervention of Fairy Godmother and a Baron who looks a lot like Elvis.
A passion for the stage
While the panto features many familiar faces, one notable Renmore newcomer is Deirdre Ni? Chloscai? who hails from Carrickmacross and takes the title role of Cinderella.
“I first fell in love with Galway when I came here to the Gaeltacht when I was in secondary school,” Deirdre tells me. “That was the reason I wanted to come to college here. Luckily enough I got the course that I wanted, studying drama in NUIG. I’m now in my third year of what is a four year course.”
Deirdre confesses to a passion for musical theatre which had her treading the boards long before she arrived in Galway.
“I started off in stage school when I was about 12 or 13 and I did shows with them every year up until I came to college,” she says. “Then I was delighted to find out there was a musical theatre society on campus so I joined Galway University Musical Society straightaway and took part in two of their shows. I absolutely loved the experience. It was amazing getting to perform in the Black Box and I learned so much from them. The shows I did were Rent in 2013 and The Drowsy Chaperone this year.
“Musical theatre is definitely what I’m most interested in, I’ve always adored it. I regularly go over to London to see West End shows and I’ll often sing at home in the shower! Music was definitely part of my family background. My dad has a really strong interest in music though in his case it is traditional Irish music. He started me off with sean no?s singing when I was younger and then I gradually got interested in performing onstage. From there I got into musical theatre.”
Deirdre admits she would like to continue working in musical theatre after graduating.
“I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in musical theatre but now I am in college I am getting the opportunity to do so many different things,” she says. “At the moment I am working as a drama teacher in Claire Rigney’s stage school, Actdancesing, and I’m really enjoying that. I would definitely consider working with children in the future, maybe in drama or musical theatre or singing.”
Happily for Deirdre, music is an integral part of the panto and Cinderella gets to perform some big numbers.
“The great thing about panto is that it’s pop songs and I’ve never done anything like that before,” Deirdre reveals. “We have fun-to-do songs like Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off ’. I’m excited about doing that but also nervous because so many people love that song and I don’t want to ruin it! There’s some Olly Murs, also John Legend, the big ballad of the year was his ‘All Of Me’ so that’s in it as well.”
So how did Deirdre come to be making her debut with the Renmore Panto? “I worked with the Cinderella directors Sean and Brian Power before,” she replies. “I played Peter Pan in the Power Performance Academy summer show this year at the Town Hall and that was really fun. Then, when I heard about the panto auditions I knew it would be a great opportunity so I went and auditioned and was so lucky to get the role. It’s been an amazing experience.
“I hadn’t actually seen any of the Renmore Pantos before but one of my friends showed me some of the clips on YouTube so I could see it was fantastic and it looked like great fun and I really wanted to get involved.”
Deirdre has been thoroughly relishing the experience of working with the Renmore troupe as they have been rehearsing Cinderella.
“Taking part in the panto has been so fantastic because, firstly, it’s so different from any other type of theatre I’ve ever done,” she declares. “It’s taught me so much in terms of comedy – I’m getting the opportunity to work with two great Dames in Kevin Griffin and, of course, Peter Kennedy, and I can learn so much from them.
“The panto is such an institution in Galway, it means so much to the community and it’s great to see small kids, the Renmore Smurfs, getting a chance to perform on the stage and being involved. It’s just a great opportunity because so many families from around Galway come to see the show and there aren’t many shows that the whole family will come to see. Panto definitely fits into that bracket.”
How does Cinderella fit into Peter Kennedy’s colourful spin on the story? “Peter is a fantastic writer,” Deirdre enthuses. “This year the panto is set in Doonbeg Estate so there is a bit of a golf theme going on. Cinderella has to be the caddie for the two Ugly Sisters, so she’s hauling the golf clubs all around the course. Of course she wants to go to the ball and the sisters do everything to try and stop her so there’s all that business as well.”
Prince Charming is played by Declan Gardiner and Deirdre is full of praise for her leading man;
“I’m very fortunate to be working with the very talented and handsome Declan Gardner,” she says. “He is not only Prince Charming but also the choreographer. That helps a lot because I wouldn’t be too confident in my dancing skills. When we have to dance in the ballroom scene it’s great to be working with someone who completely knows what they’re doing. I can trust him completely that when he lifts me up I’m not going to fall! He’s fantastic and it’s been such a fun experience to work opposite him.”
Also featured in the Cinderella cast are Alana Power (Fairy Godmother ), Karl O’Doherty (King Donald Trumpet ), Jennifer Flaherty (Princess Alicia ), Richard Brown (Danny Dean ), Nicky Lawless (Baron Stoneybroke ), Shane Cunningham (Buttons ), and Hannah McCreanor (Queen Yvanna ). Cinderella runs at the Town Hall Theatre from December 29 to January
11 with a 2.30pm matinees on December 29, 30, 31, and January 1, 3, and 10; a 12 noon and 4.30pm matinee on Sundays January 4 and 11; and 7.30pm shows on December 29 and 30 and January 1 to 3 and 7 to 10. The Sunday January 4 at 12 noon performance is sensory friendly performance for children on the autism spectrum.
Tickets are €16/14 from the Town Hall Theatre (www.tht.ie or 091- 569777 ). For more information see www.renmorepantomime.com .