Review: It was like the panto wrapped a warm hug around us

Nanny Nellie’s Adventures in Pantoland has opened at Cork Opera House and continues until January - here Elaine Duggan reviews it
Review: It was like the panto wrapped a warm hug around us

Some of the cast of Nanny Nellie’s Adventures in Pantoland on the stage of Cork Opera House. Picture: Brian Lougheed

THERE couldn’t have been a more apt song chosen to start and finish this year’s panto at Cork Opera House. As Something About This Night was belted from the stage, there was certainly something about this night. Panto was back, and boy, had we missed it!

This year’s show sees Cork’s beloved Nanny Nellie, joined by Jack, Jill, and zany fairy Tonkerbell - plus appearances by Princess Jasmine, Peter Pan, Snow White and even Harry Potter, on a magical adventure to save Pantoland from ruin by the evil magician Balthazar.

As the curtain went up and the baddie appeared, the traditional ‘Boos’ from the audience came thick and fast. He threatened no more pantos - obviously we were having none of it - we had been deprived of one last year due to Covid - no more! ‘Booooo!’

To be fair, there was only one mention of Covid throughout the whole show - when someone asked for a Covid pass. If I am honest, we were glad of the reprieve.

Then it was onto the star of the show, Nanny Nellie - whose entrance came with a big ‘We’re back.’ And boy, were they back!

This production had all the classic panto scenes. The usual cries of ‘Oh yes he should’... ‘Oh no he shouldn’t’ and ‘He’s behind you’.

There were the hilarious chase scenes... the love story, the theme of good versus bad, and of course, ending with a big wedding.

I mean, where else would you get theme music from James Bond, followed by Paw Patrol, then Indiana Jones, Family Guy and Happy in Your Nappy in the space of five minutes - and it seems totally normal!

They had the audience clapping and singing along and the traditional kids versus adults dance off. 

How glorious it was to see the theatre, which had remained silent for way too long, burst back to life.

There were the usual panto innuendos, slap-stick violence, farting, lots of bum shaking, and an unruly sausage pie.

But, outside the humour, there were also stunning renditions of Into The Unknown and Bad Habits.

We missed the little performers for sure - there are no children involved in the panto this year - but the adult dancers were fantastic.

We had ghosts doing Tik Tok dances, but there were old classics too, like Hakuna Matata - which we learned in sign language. As they sang the line ‘ No Worries...’ it certainly rang true, we didn’t have any for those 75 minutes of glorious panto. It was like the panto wrapped a big warm hug around us and we were in real need of one.

Well done to all involved - the story, the writing, the acting, the set design, the costumes, the music, the dancers - they were all amazing.

Is is great to have panto back? Oh yes, it REALLY is!

Tickets can be purchased from the Cork Opera House Box Office in person, or by calling 021 427 0022. See website for full details -

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