Review: An extravaganza of song, dance, fun, jokes, boos, hisses, cheers and tears... panto at the Everyman

John Dolan went along to review the Everyman panto this year, Aladdin
Review: An extravaganza of song, dance, fun, jokes, boos, hisses, cheers and tears... panto at the Everyman

Ciaran Bermingham as The Dame Lola Twankey and Marion Goggin as Jasmine performing a scene in this year's Everyman Panto, Aladdin which runs until January 16. Pictures: Darragh Kane

“OH yes, they were. Oh no, they weren’t,”

What a 21 months it’s been for the panto industry, as their shows were on, then off, then definitely maybe... The pandemic has done the hokey-cokey with it - in, out, in, out, shake it all about by halving capacity.

But we got there in the end, and what a joy it was to behold the Everyman panto on Thursday night - an extravaganza of song, dance, fun, jokes, boos, hisses, cheers and tears.

Yes, it’s been scaled down somewhat, with a running time of 90 minutes and no interval; yes, we missed the smallies on the stage; and yes, the old place lost a smidgen of its atmosphere by being at just 50% capacity.

But the actors, singers, and dancers - and the audience too - all starved of live family entertainment for so long - lapped it up. What an antidote to all the gloom around... er, you know what.

Michael Sands as Jafaaaah performing a scene in this year's Everyman Panto, Aladdin. Picture Darragh Kane
Michael Sands as Jafaaaah performing a scene in this year's Everyman Panto, Aladdin. Picture Darragh Kane

It must have been tempting for Everyman panto stalwart Catherine Mahon Buckley and her team to inject a reference or two to Covid for a cheap boo, but no, this was a pandemic-free zone - and all the better for it; save for a hint in the final line of the night, delivered by panto dame Lola Twankey, who put a strong emphasis on the word ‘healthy’ as she wished us all a happy 2022.

This year’s show is Aladdin - but, this being the Everyman panto, it comes with a Cork twist, boy!

Dayl Cronin excels in the lead role, while Marion Goggin radiates as Princess Jasmine. As they fall in love and battle the evil Jafaaah - played by that supreme pantomime villain with a booming voice Michael Sands - we get plenty of light relief.

The jokes and fun came thick and fast from the brilliant, wise-cracking Ciaran Bermingham as Dame Twankey and Fionula Linehan as Wishee - two quintessentially Cork actors who clearly extract as much fun from panto as the children hollering with laughter in front o f them.

They have plenty of comic support from Graham McDermott as Jafaaah’s not-so-evil henchman, J’nolike (say it quickly!).

Fionula Linehan as Wishee and Graham McDermott as J’nolike in Aladdin at the Everyman. Picture: Darragh Kane
Fionula Linehan as Wishee and Graham McDermott as J’nolike in Aladdin at the Everyman. Picture: Darragh Kane

A special word, too, for John Sharpson, who revels in his role as Genic Mac, from the moment he arrives on stage in a puff of smoke, clad in green, and wielding a hurley. He delivers his lines with a Cork gusto that belies his Dublin heritage! (John will also be known to many kids as ‘Múinteoir John’ in RTÉ’s Home School Hub).

I didn’t register quite so many current pop songs this year (perhaps I’m getting old!), but there were plenty of gorgeous musical-style numbers, wonderfully choreographed and performed, and a musical highlight for me was a rousing rendition of Starlight as a finale.

Dayl Cronin as Aladdin and Marion Goggin as Jasmine in Aladdin which runs until the 16th Jan 2022. Picture: Darragh Kane
Dayl Cronin as Aladdin and Marion Goggin as Jasmine in Aladdin which runs until the 16th Jan 2022. Picture: Darragh Kane

Of course, the most important - and succinct - verdict of all came from my six-year-old, who had been enraptured and hung on every word and note. “It’s brilliant!” she declared breathlessly at the end. What she said.

Please note that, as per current Covid-19 guidelines, the Everyman will only be able to welcome patrons who are fully vaccinated, or have recovered from Covid-19 within the previous six months, or minors accompanied by an adult. Please bring photo ID and proof of vaccination with you.

For bookings see www.everymancork.com/

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