Every year Castlebar Pantomime proudly claims that its current production is the best to date. Well, this year Puss In Boots has gone further than Castlebar Panto's widest expectations. Following an extensive campaign to gain new pantomime members, the wealth of talent gathered on the refurbished Royal Theatre stage has totally illuminated the usual high standard production expected by Castlebar Pantomime audiences.
In the retelling of the children’s classic fairy tale of Puss In Boots the hero Peter, played by panto newcomer Aidan Geraghty from Newport, is tricked into thinking he has been left nothing by his recently deceased father by his scheming brothers Casper, played by the rock solid panto veteran Antoinette Starken, and Hector, played by Angela Prenty from Ballyglass. Despite reassurances from his friends that the Queen of Arcadia, played by the blinding talents of Walter Donoghue, hates deceit and will sort out his legal difficulties, Peter with only his aged cat for company reluctantly leaves his friends — played by two more panto newcomers Natasha Crouch as Marjory Daw and Paul Garvin as Jack Spratt, both from Claremorris — heads off to find his fortune.
As yet the good people of Arcadia are unaware of the evil intentions of their local not so friendly ogre Crunchbones, played by James Murray from Castlebar in his first venture on the panto stage, to enslave or preferably eat the citizens. Even bad guys need help, and the ogre is aided in his plans by Gruesome, the most evil of bad guys played by the best of good guys in the real world, Philip McDonagh from Castlebar. In an attempt to cover the fact that their brother Peter was indeed included in their father’s will, Casper and Hector join forces with the evil pair.
Love makes its way into all pantomimes — Marjory Daw loves Jack Spratt, The Queen is in love with her page Freckles, played by Mairead Coughlan who has enthralled her adopted Mayo with her vocal skills, and of course there has to be a princess in love. From their first meeting the hero Peter and the most beautiful princess in the world, Miranda, played by another welcome panto newcomer Laura Cuffe from Belcarra, fall hopelessly in love. Hopeless indeed it is, as he is but a poor millers son and she the only daughter of the Queen of Arcadia!
Ah but this is pantomime and anything is possible! Enter Mother Goose, played by yet another panto newcomer, Triona O'Malley from Westport, who magically transforms the aged cat into... wait for it... not only a quick thinking, talking, cat, but one who can turn cartwheels! Expertly playing the role of Puss In Boots is stage veteran but new to Castlebar Pantomime, Westport's very own Aoife Carr. As it turns out much magic and heroism is truly needed in this year’s pantomime. Puss In Boots has to trick the Royal Court into believing that his master Peter is the Marquis of Carrabas so that the miller’s son can marry the princess. However Peter, with the aid of Jack, has to rescue his beloved princess and Margary Dawe from the clutches of the evil ogre Crunchbones and Gruesome. The Queens Chamberlain, played by (and there has been many ) another Castlebar Pantomime newcomer, Jason Parish, who currently lives in Ballyglass, who God love him has to scour the countryside “to find of all things, a talking cat!”
How many villagers end up eaten or enslaved by the evil ogre? Does Gruesome succeed in helping the ogre, do Jack and Peter save Marjory and Princess Miranda? Will Puss In Boots manage to convince the Royal Court that Peter the miller’s son is the Marquis of Carrabbas? Will the Chamberlain get over the embarrassment of calling for a talking cat? Will Peter’s nasty brothers Casper and Hector succeed in keeping Peter away from his inheritance? Will Freckles the page and Queen Fanny the Fifth ever agree on a wedding day? Never mind them! Will Peter and Princess Miranda live long enough to have a wedding of their own? Go along to Castlebar Pantomime’s production of Puss in Boots in the Royal Theatre, Castlebar from January 15 to 18 and find out.