I'm loving 10th year of doing Improv Panto at Cork Opera House

The Improv Panto continues at Cork Opera House until this Friday. Here, one of the stars, LAURA HARTÉ talks about the show, now in its 10th year
I'm loving 10th year of doing Improv Panto at Cork Opera House

Laura Harte who is taking part in the Improv Panto until Friday. Picture: Miki Barlok

Tell us about yourself;

My name is Laura Harte, I studied theatre in college, worked at Cork Opera House for several years, and am currently working for Cork’s 96FM by day, but this time of year I’m busy producing and starring in The Improv Panto at Cork Opera House. This is the tenth year The Improv Panto has returned to Cork Opera House, (it should be our 13th, alas Covid had other plans for us.)

Where were you born?

I was born in Scariff, in East Clare, and at 17 I moved to Cork to study English and Drama in UCC, and I’ve never left!

Where do you live?

We bought a house in Midleton in 2018.


My husband Joe, my two-year-old daughter Katie, and soon to be a family of four, with one on the way for next May. My parents are still in Clare, as is my brother and family, and I’ve another brother living in Maynooth with his family.

Laura O'Mahony and Laura Harte at the Everyman Theatre. Picture: Darragh Kane
Laura O'Mahony and Laura Harte at the Everyman Theatre. Picture: Darragh Kane

Best friend?

I’m humbled to have a collection of wonderful friends, from childhood right through. The top tier friend title goes to Laura O’Mahony. Laura and I met when we auditioned for our college course, and have been besties ever since, through thick and thin. 

She makes me laugh like no-one else, she is a source of support and strength. We were each other’s bridesmaids, and she is my all-time favourite person to perform on stage with.

Earliest childhood memory?

This mightn’t be the earliest, but the one that stands out the most was Clare winning the All-Ireland in 1995. I was too young to be brought to Croke Park that year (something I never let my parents forget) but the happiness and celebration that brought to my family and county for weeks after is something I carry with me.

Person who most irritates you?

An unpopular opinion with many no doubt, but Nathan Carter drives me nuts, I simply detest Wagon Wheel!

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Joe and I got married in Dubrovnik. We celebrated the day with 75 of our closest friends and family. We hosted our drinks reception on a Galleon ship that sailed around the old walls of Dubrovnik… Drinking bubbles in the sunshine on the high seas with your nearest and dearest, it doesn’t get better than that! (Peak notions!)

Favourite TV programme?

Hard to pick just one, Game of Thrones (before they ruined the ending,) and more recently I love bingeing through shows like The White Lotus, This is Us, Dopesick, Luther, Handmaid’s Tale, or watching Paddington Bear for the 500th time with my toddler.

Favourite radio show?

My taste varies but special mention goes to The Arts House on 96FM & C103 on Sunday mornings. The support Elmarie and Conor give to the Arts in Cork is phenomenal. 

They give equal time and love to big productions as well as small home-grown talent and productions with little to no budget.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Love a simple caprese salad, a wholesome beef chilli, or a nice coconut green curry.

Favourite restaurant?

Jacobs on the Mall. Not only is it hands down the most beautiful room in Cork city to eat in, but the food is delicious to match.

Last book you read?

Grand, by Noelle McCarthy. Noelle is from Cork, living in New Zealand. She tells the story of growing up in Cork and her tumultuous relationship with her Mam, and with alcohol. 

She tells it with a heart-breaking and fierce Cork wit, I laughed, I cried, I loved it.

Best book you read?

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, by Neil Gaiman. It’s years since I read it, but it still stays with me. It’s a book that reminded me of childhood imagination and optimism, it’s magic and it’s powerful.

Last song/album you listened to?

Paolo Nutini’s new album, Last Night in the Bittersweet.

Favourite song?

James Vincent McMorrow: We Don’t Eat. It’s from his original album in 2012 that I’ve listened to thousands of times. I had the privilege of seeing James play that album underground in the Mitchelstown Caves. Best gig I’ve ever been to. Magic.

One person you would like to see in concert?

I’d love to see Florence and the Machine again, she’s back in Cork next year, but I’m not sure the newborn will let me out that night!

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl, but my daughter aspires for me to be more of a morning person.

Your proudest moment?

My two-year-old went to see Santa the other week. Watching her chatting away to him, pure adorable like, I felt a pride about what a wonderful little person she’s turning out to be.

Professionally speaking, seeing hundreds of people laugh and dance with us at the Improv Panto every year is brilliant. 

Making people laugh and forget their worries for a short while gives me a massive sense of pride.

Spendthrift or saver?

If I must save, I will do what I have to do, but I do love a splurge and to look after myself! Cute outfits for my daughter are my kryptonite.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

The Dunkettle roundabout to be finished faster!!

What makes you happy?

When my daughter is happy. Spending time with friends and loved ones. Going to gigs.

Performing on stage with the amazing cast of the Improv Panto.

How would you like to be remembered?

A bould pup with a good sense of humour, a good friend, wife and Mam, who is fun to be around.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Finishing our run in the Improv Panto at the Opera House. Runs until Friday, December 23. It’s a ridiculously fun show that we make up on the spot. The audience gets to choose what panto we do, and who plays what character. We sing, we dance, we (hopefully!) make people laugh. Tickets can be got from corkoperahouse.ie

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