It is a long time since Castlebar pantomime performed a show based on a nursery rhyme, the last one being Mother Hubbard in 1999, Mother Goose of 1993 is only associated with nursery rhymes, which then leaves Ole King Cole in 1990, making a Castlebar pantomime based around a nursery rhyme a bit of rarity and in the case of Sing A Song Of Sixpence a rather brilliant show!
Sing A Song of Sixpence involves two kingdoms, one of which, Cornucopia, was wonderfully oblivious of the other until Queen Dilly of Utopia, played by the shy and retiring James Murray, only goes and gambles the royal family's castle, jewels, carriage. She then brings her son, the handsome Prince Valentine played by Joe Meagher, to the serene kingdom of Cornucopia to seek the hand of its princess, played by Laura Daly from Castlebar, while his mother seeks all the wealth she can handle! On his arrival Prince Valentine meets a beautiful servant girl and practises his proposal to the princess, but is this girl merely a servant? Utopia is ruled by King Ferdinand, played by Philip McDonagh, who has in his possession a magic crown which protects his kingdom from evil and doubles his gold nightly. Great tragedy would befall the kingdom if it fell into the wrong hands. Is this why Witch Watt, played by Donna Ruane, has taken to sneaking around the kitchen as Dame Durdon, played by John Gavin, prepares a pie for the king’s birthday? An innocent looking pie could be the method she has been looking for to aid her in a devious plot even if the ever good fairy Gossamer, played by Angela Prenty, constantly seems to turn up and claim she will not succeed.
When Dame Durdon meets Prince Valentine he reminds her of another prince looking for a bride many years ago, who swept her off her feet but eventually married her sister, whom she has not seen since then. Could this tale from the past come back to revisit Dame Durdon in her happy life now? King Ferdinand’s past has definitely come back to haunt him on hearing of Queen Dilly’s arrival in Cornucopia. Despite many suggestions from his chamberlain, played by Jane Flanagan, and his jesters Flip and Flop played by Castlebar ladies Antoinette Starken and Ann Barrett, Queen Dilly was not going anywhere without a substantial amount of riches. Being pantomime there is an understanding that any character can float into a tale, hence Simple Simon played by Walter Donoghue is the palace cook. But that does not stop him from flirting with Lucy the maid, played by Ann Murray.
Needless to say a bit of a panto situation arises where Prince Valentine must put his life on the line to restore the harmony of Utopia and traditionally the princess disappears from the castle, causing the occupants to launch a massive search. This search leads them to some gypsies who reveal yet another palace secret. But what about the crown, will King Ferdinand ever be able to spend time in his counting house, will the princess return, and hopefully Queen Dilly leave? Will Prince Valentine marry his princess, will good fairies overcome evil witches? To find out go to the Royal Theatre Castlebar between January 13 and 17, where Castlebar pantomime celebrates its 25th birthday.