‘There’s a whole different buzz’: No tickets cancelled so far – Cork panto director

Everyman Theatre will host full capacity shows but ask adults to show Covid certs and wear masks

Ciaran Bermingham as Lola Twankey and Fionula Linehan as Wishee Washee, part of the Everyman Threatre panto   ensemblefor this year’s production of Aladdin. Photograph: Miki Barlok

Ciaran Bermingham as Lola Twankey and Fionula Linehan as Wishee Washee, part of the Everyman Threatre panto ensemblefor this year’s production of Aladdin. Photograph: Miki Barlok

 

He may not have found a lamp with a wish granting genie like Aladdin, the star of this year’s Everyman Panto in Cork did, but if Everyman executive director, Sean Kelly had three wishes, his first would be that children would continue to be allowed to attend pantos this Christmas.

“We haven’t had any cancellations since the Minister Stephen Donnelly made his comments about children reducing their social interactions so I suppose my first wish would be that things just continue as they are, once every one is safe and well,” he said.

“Our bookings have gone on sale later than normal this year because we wanted to be sure that we had everything set up to have a really safe panto for participants and audiences – bookings have been really strong with 70 per cent bookings so far before Christmas and 50 per cent after Christmas.”

“As I say, we haven’t had any cancellations so far and what we are saying is that we’re providing a safe experience in a controlled environment and we’re focussed on making the show as exciting and as fun for everybody as possible and we’re ready to open our doors on December 8th.”

He said preparations for the panto would normally start six weeks out though that lead-in was cut a little this year but cast members, Ciaran Bermingham as Lola Twankey, Dayl Cronin as Aladdin, Marion Goggin as Jasmine and Fionula Linehan as Wishee have had plenty of rehearsal time.

“We didn’t have a panto last year – we had a streamed version of our panto so that was first time in decades that we didn’t have a live panto at the Everyman which was very sad for us all really and the theatre was entirely dark over Christmas so it was very unlike the Everyman,” he said.

“That was a very demoralising experience for everyone so we’re really looking forward to this year’s panto – so there’s a whole different buzz around the building at the moment, getting ready for panto so we’re really focussed on making as fun and as safe for everybody.

The Everyman Theatre will operate at its full 650 seat capacity but every adult attending the show, which runs from December 8th until January 16th, will be asked to produce their Covid-19 certificate and a corresponding ID and wear a mask while all staff will also be masked, he said.

“Everybody is really cheerful but everything we do now has a shadow hanging over you in that there’s always that fear that something might happen, that things can take a turn but audiences have been really supportive since we re-opened our doors and that has encouraged us on.”

And if Mr Kelly had second and third wishes from the genie’s lamp, what would they be?

“My second wish would be that things go well for the country generally because if people are safe and happy, our theatres will be the same and my third wish is for everybody to have a great time when they come to our panto but I think that’s well within our control and we’ll have it well sorted.”