Look behind you! Principal boys, panto dames and sneering villains are all gainfully employed for the next while with the panto season officially in full swing around the country, and continuing in some cases well into the third week of the New Year.
Some of these shows are already heavily booked or even sold out, but it’s always worth checking with the individual box offices. There are too many shows to mention in full here, but you can consult irishtimes.com/culture for full listings and reviews.
Among the highlights in Dublin is The Snow Queen, at the Gaiety, a Frozen-esque tale warmed up as usual by the irrepressible Joe Conlan as Granny Hurdy-Gurdy. Expect some spectacular sets and effects (until January 20th). Then there's Snow White and the Adventures of Sammy Sausages (with Sammy played as always by Alan Hughes and Joe Duffy appearing in holographic form as the Magic Mirror), which is, sadly, the last every Cheerios panto to be staged at the soon-to-be-no-more Tivoli Theatre (until January 13th)
Polly and the Magic Lamp, which has opened at the Olympia Theatre and runs until January 6th, also features a starry cast including Rory Cowan, Ryan Andrews and Jake Carter.
Staying in Dublin, Robin Hood, at the Helix, sees TheatreworX take on the timeless tale of Sherwood Forest's goodies and baddies (until January 20th), while those in search of a slightly gentler entertainment might prefer to try Branar's wordless adaptation of Oliver Jeffers's much-loved How to Catch a Star in the Ark (until December 30th). And Beauty and the Beast is billed as "sixty minutes of panto pandemonium" at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum (until January 6th). That running time might prove attractive to some.
In Cork, Aladdin, this year's traditional and magical panto at the Opera House, received the full five stars from The Irish Times for its "magical choreography performed by a tinsel-encrusted and apparently tireless chorus line" (until January 20th), while, at the Everyman, a "riotous" Cinderella will definitely be going to the ball (and confusingly, getting entangled with the goose that laid the golden egg) until January 13th.
In Belfast, Jack and the Beanstalk is another traditional-style bells-and-whistles pantomime featuring David Bedella as the giant at the Grand Opera House (until January 13th), or there's the through-the-looking-glass option of Alice the Musical, a new musical version of Lewis Carroll's topsy-turvy masterpiece by Paul Boy, which runs at the Lyric until January 5th. There's also the option of the classic Beauty and the Beast at the Waterfront (until January 6th).
Limerick panto-goers can enjoy Snow White, with Katherine Lynch as the Wicked Queen, at University Concert Hall until January 6th, while in Galway the Renmore Players are celebrating an impressive 40 years in the panto business with Sleeping Beauty at the Townhall Theatre until January 13th.
Fair City's George McMahon appears in Sleeping Beauty, described as Ireland's only touring pantomime, which runs at the National Opera House, Wexford, from December 27th to December 30th, and at INEC, Killarney, from January 3rd to January 5th.
Is that all? Oh no it isn't. In Derry there's Peter Pan at the Millennium Forum until December 30th.
Is that it? Oh no it isn't. In Ennis, Hansel and Gretel get the satirical treatment in a traditional panto presented by Pantaloons at Glór Irish Music Centre (until December 31st). And Cinderella gets a poppy treatment from Waterford Panto Society at the Theatre Royal until December 30th.