THIS YEAR'S Renmore pantomime, Beauty and The Beast, opens at the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday December 30, and promises to be a spectacular adventure of laughter, music, and song.
As ever, the show is scripted by panto dame Peter Kennedy and directed by Sean and Brian Power and this winning team is poised to deliver yet another seasonal cracker.
King Duncan (David Booth ) and Queen Mathilda (Marsha Maly ) arrive in the Kingdom of Renmore in search of their son, Prince Duncan Jr (Daniel Boyne ). Little do they know he has been turned into a Beast by the wicked Witch Evileena (Ellie Davis ) because he refused to marry her. The Beast's only hope is to find true love before the Rose petals fade. Along comes Potty Peter (Michael Cooney ) who steals a red rose from Beast’s garden to bring to his beautiful daughter, Belle (Jenni Flaherty ). Beast is outraged by the theft and keeps Potty Peter captive, only releasing him in exchange for Belle. But will Belle see past Beast’s fearsome exterior to the noble soul within?
Taking the central roles in this year’s panto is Renmore newcomer Daniel Boyne, as Beast and Jenni Flaherty, as Belle, and they both took time out from their preparations to chat with me about the show.
Originally from Mullingar, Daniel comes from a family with a long performing pedigree. “I started being serious about performing when I was 15 and was with the Mullingar Youth Academy for the Performing Arts,” he tells me. “That was when I first got formal training in dancing, singing and acting; though before that I’d performed a lot in school plays and I was always begging for the lead role! That was a great experience with the academy, I was there for nearly three years and they taught me everything I know. I also got to do musicals and pantos in Mullingar Arts Centre.”
Daniel shares his thoughts on the contrast between doing musicals and pantos. “To be honest I sometimes find musicals quite stressful because they can be quite strict in how they are structured; you have your character and your lines and there’s no room for movement away from those. Panto is much more fun, you can bring some of yourself to the table, your own take on the character. You have more freedom to be creative. When I did panto in Mullingar you’d be given the outline of your character and then it was up to you bring it to life and I really liked that. I do love doing musicals but I enjoy the added creativity of panto.”
How is he finding working with Renmore Panto? “So far it is going great; I am loving it,” he enthuses. “It was a bit intimidating at first because they are such a well known and established group but they made me welcome straightaway, they are very open to new people. I love the sense of community which the Renmore Panto has; even though Galway is a big city, Renmore still feels like a family ensemble which is nice and I’m loving being part of it.”
Daniel describes playing Beast, and acting alongside Jenni Flaherty’s Belle. “Beast is a frightening character at the start but he slowly softens as the story progresses and his relationship with Belle grows. It’s a great character to play, I can get really get my teeth into it –if you pardon the pun. Acting with Jenni is fantastic, she’s well used to panto and has helped me with any scenes where I was struggling and we have a great chemistry so far and I’m looking forward to that coming to life onstage. I think it’s going to be a very exciting panto. It’s a great story to begin with and Peter Kennedy and the Power twins have really expanded on that. It will also be hilariously funny and entertaining.”
Jenni Flaherty is something of a Renmore veteran, with Belle marking her sixth panto appearance with the troupe. It’s a role one could say she was born to play as her love of theatre and performance stemmed from a childhood trip to see Beauty and The Beast in London.
“My aunt and uncle took me to see Beauty and The Beast in the West End when I was six years old,” she recalls. “I remember being mesmerised by it and I was talking about it for days afterwards. It was the first time I thought that I wanted to be on stage and I knew I wanted to be Belle so it’s nice to finally get to play the role after waiting patiently all these years!”
She describes how Belle comes across in the Renmore telling of the tale. “The Power twins are putting a modern twist on the story and writer Peter Kennedy will keep it really funny as always and I’m enjoying both sides of Belle, the romance and the comedy. She’s very like the character we know from the classic story. She is very caring and loves her father. She is also trying to avoid the arrogant character Cathal McGregor but at the end of the day, alongside the humour, it brings out the elements of falling in love.”
How is Jenni enjoying working with Daniel as Beast? “We’re getting on brilliantly,” she declares. “Daniel is such a lovely guy and he fits the role perfectly. He gives it everything and is always looking for new things to bring to the character. We bounce off each other really well and he’s also a handsome guy so when he turns into the Prince at the end it’s perfect!”
The cast also features Declan J Gardiner, Katie Creaven, Richard Brown, Siofra Ní Chonluain and the ever-popular Renmore Smurfs.
Beauty and The Beast runs at the Town Hall Theatre for 19 performances from December 30 to January 14. Shows at 7.30pm are on December 30 and January 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 10 to 13; 2.30pm matinees are on December 30 and 31, and January 1, 6, and 13; 12 noon and 4.30pm performances on January 7 and 14. There will be a sensory friendly performance on January 7 at 12 noon. Tickets are €17/15 via the Town Hall Theatre (091-569777 or www.tht.ie ).