Cork's Adult Panto’s back... oh yes it is

The Adult Panto is back this year - in front of a live audience. DEBORAH HICKEY catches up with the driving force behind it, Angela Newman of Chattyboo Productions
Cork's Adult Panto’s back... oh yes it is

Angela Newman and cast in the adult panto, in previous years. This is the 13th year the production runs at An Spailpn Fánach.

“THERE’S a show happening in An Spailpín Fánach with a Pirate Captain, a comical side-kick, a man in a dress, a fella who flies and a whole host of characters all played by one person. Wait a minute... that can only mean one thing... is the Adult Panto back? Oh yes it is!!”

So says well-known performer, writer and Artistic Director of Chattyboo Productions, Angela Newman, who is very excited to tell us about the return of the event.

Angela tells us more: “This year’s show is Peter Pana - The Adult Panto. Is it the well-known children’s classic that we all know and love? Oh yes it is... well actually no, probably not, because it is the Adult Panto like!”

The show, which opened on December 3 and continues until January 15, has become a regular favourite for Corkonians down through the years, and while always delivering plenty of laughs, the Adult Panto offers stellar performances, impressive vocals, creative stage scenes and vibrant costumes year in, year out.

Angela Newman of Chattyboo Productions.
Angela Newman of Chattyboo Productions.

NAVIGATING COVID

Now in its 13th year at An Spailpín Fánach, South Main Street, The Adult Panto took a different form last year due to Covid restrictions. 4

Angela, together with her fellow panto cast and crew, wrote an Adult Panto sketch show entitled The Adult Pan-demic-to which ran online over Christmas 2020.

Filmed between lockdowns, and within restrictions, Angela says the team were left with something they were really proud of, adding: “One of the sketches, The Day the Pubs Reopened, has been shown as a short-film in festivals here and abroad since.”

THEATRE IS IN HER BLOOD

With her family history steeped in creativity and talent spanning back through generations, it’s no coincidence that Angela chose a career in theatre.

Her great-grandparents on both sides of her family were musical. Angela’s great-grandmother, Madeleine Casey, was a singer who, later in life, played piano at silent movie theatres. Madeleine’s husband, Michael Casey, wrote the song Mick Mac Gilligan’s Ball among other well-known songs.

Angelas’s grandfather, also Michael Casey, was an accomplished musician who played saxophone in the Blarney Ceilí Band and was the composer of The Winding Banks of the Lee, a song released for the Cork 800 celebrations back in 1985.

Speaking about her family, Angela notes: “I come from a very long line of performers and theatre practitioners.

“I’ve been very lucky to have grown up surrounded by the best in the business and to have learned from them.

“My mother, Mary Newman is a well-respected, and much sought after, costume designer and I’ve been fortunate enough to have her working with me on every Chattyboo Production to date.”

On her father’s side of the family, both grandparents tread the boards. Her grandfather, Billy Newman, was a founding member of The Everyman Theatre Company and performed with international touring companies such as Clopet’s Productions. Billy was also the Films Officer for the Cork Film Festival for many years. Angela’s father, Jim Newman, is also a leading figure in theatre.

Angela elaborates: “Dad, like my mother Mary, prefers to be out of the limelight but he is a shining star in stage management circles. There isn’t a theatre in Ireland where they don’t know him.

Cast of the Adult Panto in previous years.
Cast of the Adult Panto in previous years.

“He is a great set designer and carpenter, who worked with the award-winning playwright, Patrick Murray, for many years.

“I grew up watching all of these incredible people do their thing in rehearsal rooms and sitting rooms with some of the business’s most respected actors, singers and musicians. It was magic then and it never lost it’s magic for me.

“Is it any surprise that no other career path was ever an option for me. I’ve known I wanted a life in theatre since the age of three!”

Angela is a powerhouse of innovation and talent. Her grandmother joked that she came tap dancing into the world and she hasn’t stopped performing since. She started at a young age with Montfort College of Performing Arts and studied musical theatre in Stella Mann Performing Arts College in London.

She went on to perform with Montauk Theatre Production, for two seasons, in New York. She has performed in France and Australia and spent two years entertaining at Bunratty and Dunguaire Castles playing multiple parts.

She has appeared on children’s television for RTÉ, has starred in RTÉ/BBC productions Falling For A Dancer and The Young Offenders, and Angela’s voice is easily recognisable from the dozens of advertisements and jingles she has sung for 96 FM over the years.

The busy mother of one is well known for her many years performing with theatre in education Company, Cyclone Rep, playing Ophelia in Hamlet, Goneril in King Lear, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth.

These productions were performed to teenagers all over Ireland for five years as part of Cyclone Rep’s Shakespeare Sessions.

SETTING UP HER OWN COMPANY

Having lived and worked in New York and Australia for six years, Angela returned to Cork in 2005 and established her own company, Chattyboo Productions. The performer explains: “I had spent some of my time away assistant-producing for a studio theatre in New York, which I loved, and I thought the best way to re-introduce myself to Cork city was to produce my favourite play, The Importance of Being Earnest, and cast myself as the role of Gwendolyn Fairfax.

“I created the company with the intention of only doing one show but the rest, as they say, is history and here we are 15 years later.”

Marie O'Donovan, Angela Newman, Darragh Keating, David Peare, and Leah Wood; The Cast of Chattyboo Productions' Hansel and Gretel, the 2018 Adult Panto. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Marie O'Donovan, Angela Newman, Darragh Keating, David Peare, and Leah Wood; The Cast of Chattyboo Productions' Hansel and Gretel, the 2018 Adult Panto. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

As artistic director of Chattyboo Productions, Angela is the force behind their bi-annual musicals which have included I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and a new musical, which she co-wrote, entitled Pubcrawl - The Musical. Having received funding from Cork County Council this year, Chattyboo brought their children’s show, The Tales of Fionn MacCumhaill, to public parks around the county for a five week period throughout the summer, much to the delight of Angela’s biggest fan, her 10 year old son Cian.

These events booked out at every venue and prompted Angela to start a separate branch of Chattyboo Productions for young people and families, called Scéalta Productions.

BACK IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES

With the season that is now upon us, however, all eyes are on Chattyboo’s Peter Pana - The Adult Panto.

Angela is delighted to be back performing to an indoor live audience.

She says: “All of us are collectively thrilled to be in the same space as others and enjoying a shared experience after such a long time.”

Peter Pana is written and directed by Adrian Scanlan, starring Angela Newman, Marie O’ Donovan, Leah Wood, Darragh Keating and Pearse O’Donoghue.

Details can be found on Chattyboo Productions’ Facebook and Instagram and tickets are available at https://pantotickets.org/o/1

For those unfamiliar with the Adult Panto, Angela reveals what can be expected: “The Adult Panto has been described as rude and crude but never nude! It’s a night filled with raucous laughter, local humour, ‘Oh no you don’t, oh yes I do’s’ puns and pints, and it’s guaranteed to be the best night out you will have over Christmas any year!”

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