Published on January 26th, 2010 | by Sinead Keogh3
Three on Tour #1: The Panto
The theory was simple. You never really explore the place you call home. When you visit a foreign city you do so with guidebook in hand, but when you’re on familiar ground, visits to local places of interest end up on the eternal long finger. No more we say! Last Friday three Dublin Culchies pounded the city sidewalks on the tourist trail, and we’ve come away with a love your city vibe to be spread among the masses. Up, up off your cash-strapped recessionista bottom and start exploring what’s within shuffling distance of your front door. It’s well worth it and over the next four Tuesdays we’ll let you in on what we found…
This week, the last shall be first. Although we finished the day at the theatre, the show we saw is finishing up this Sunday night so it nabs the first review slot since time is of the essence.
Tell me when will you be mine….tell me Mondo Mondo Mondo begins the first number in Jack & the Beanstalk at The Gaiety. Starring, most notably, George McMahon of Fair City fame (joke makes sense now, huh?) the show is an immensely likable take on the old fairytale that kept three grown-up kids entertained for the entirety and was the perfect rounding off to a day of Dublin fun.
Look at him there…isn’t he owny gorgis? Well if that wasn’t all, he and the rest of the cast alike are maintaining an impressive spark in the last week of their run. When we took our seats in the Dress Circle last Friday evening we (meself, himself and herself) were surrounded on all sides by a typical panto audience of parents and children. We commented to each other that the place was still impressively packed three weeks the wrong side of Christmas, and then were left in little doubt as to why as enthusiastic actor after enthusiastic actor took to the stage.
Jack and the Beanstalk the panto doesn’t stray too far from Jack and the Beanstalk the fairytale in terms of story. Jack Spratt, the aforementioned Mondo, is called upon to save the day for his impoverished family and the people of Littletown when Daisy the cow is sold off for magic beans, and the only hope of getting back on track and in the money lies at the top of the beanstalk that springs up in the yard. The bare bones story itself would have been enjoyable, with Garry Mountaine playing the panto-staple man-dressed-as-woman role of Dame Spratt, Jack’s mammy, to a comic tee. If Mondo pleased the kids and the fangirl types in the audience (myself and herself among them) then Dame Spratt was entertainment enough for every adult in the place.
So too, there were a number of shout-outs to the times that gave the show (a Gaiety calendar regular for over 200 years) a modern twist. The panto fairy (Louise Lenihan) wasn’t winged (recessionary cutbacks) but on roller skates. The lovely ladies of Littletown burst out in glitterballesque dresses to sing ‘Promise’ and at the end of the night the comic duo of Slow Sean (Richie Hayes) and Garavan Gobdaw (Michael Joseph) kept the fun going by breaking down the dance steps to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Hoedown Throwdown’ and teaching them to a delighted audience of kids before forcing the adults to do it too. (Yes, there are three Culchies who can now do Miley Cyrus dancing…no, you can’t ask for a preview in the pub).
Setting out to see a show as part of a tourist day, we did feel a little conspicuous settling in to watch a panto with no kids in tow to validate our presence, but the Gaiety gang won us over. The set was a storybook in 3D; the gags, while sometimes groansome (“I’ve got nothing, I got…NAMA!”) showed an ability to entertain little people and big people at the same time; the musical numbers were straight out of the ’09 charts and it was all pulled off by a cast still bouncing with energy toward the end of a gruelling run. It’s difficult to play the back end of a cow with aplomb, but aplomb there was from every person on stage. There’s no ‘oh bother, I’m in a panto…cheesyfakesmile’ about this lot, they’re enjoying themselves and they’re worth seeing.
If you’d like to spend a night dancing unashamedly to teen pop, clapping along in your seat, nodding intently when someone suggests that Felix Fleshcreep (Michael Grennell) is the best baddie you’ve seen on stage in a long time (panto or no panto) and marvelling at the endless abilities of some Billy Barry kids then make it your business to make it to the Gaiety before the curtain drops one final time this Sunday night. If you have kids, there’s no excuse. If you don’t…go anyway, you could use some good clean fun (especially you) and if anything January’s the best time to do it to get the feelgoods going again just when the post-Christmas slump is hitting.
Like the sound of it?
Oh yes you do!