Cork Opera House to put on 'relaxed' Panto performances for autistic children 

Rehearsals are underway for Cork Opera House’s fairytale Panto of Sleeping Beauty
Cork Opera House to put on 'relaxed' Panto performances for autistic children 

Cork Opera House have revealed a thrilling cast for a mammoth 67-performance run of its 2022 Panto production of Sleeping Beauty. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

Cork Opera House will be holding ‘relaxed performances’ of this year’s Panto for the first time, to cater for children and other patrons who are autistic or who have sensory and/or processing difficulties.

Rehearsals are underway for Cork Opera House’s fairytale Panto of Sleeping Beauty, which will have a mammoth 67-performance run and is expected to attract over 60,000 Panto-goers.

Legendary Dame, Frank Mackey, will reprise his ever-popular role as Nannie Nellie, joined by rising stars and Panto debutants Chloe O’Riordain (Sleeping Beauty), Eamonn Walsh (Prince Charming) and I’m Grand Mam podcaster, Kevin Twomey (Chester the Jester).

Renowned Panto and theatre stalwarts Michael Grennel (King Cedric) and Shirely McCarthy (Maleficent) complete an exciting cast under the directorship of long-term Cork Opera House collaborator, Trevor Ryan.

“Frank and I began our Panto journey with Sleeping Beauty almost ten years ago so to return to the Opera House with this new version is very fulfilling for us,” said Mr Ryan, adding that they have “a few new tricks” up their sleeves to share with audiences this Christmas.

This year’s Panto will be the first to host two ‘relaxed performances’, aimed at including and accommodating autistic children and patrons who may find it challenging to attend traditional Panto performances.

Cork Opera House CEO, Eibhlín Gleeson, said that their Panto team is looking forward to putting on the relaxed performances for “some very important patrons”.

“We are working on these shows with the autistic community, as well as parents and carers to help inform this process. The result, we hope, is that we will adapt our environment to create an experience where children will be free to make noise, move around and most importantly - relax and be completely themselves while enjoying Sleeping Beauty,” she said.

Cork Opera House has also announced a new sponsorship deal for the Panto with international footwear brand, Skechers. Paul Gallagher, MD Shuz4U Ltd T/A Skechers Ireland said they are “delighted” to sponsor a Cork institution that “brings families together every Christmas”.

Sleeping Beauty opens on Thursday December 1, with two 'relaxed performances' taking place January 4. Tickets are on sale from the Box Office (021 4270022) and www.corkoperahouse.ie.

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