Ciaran Bermingham as Lola Twankey and Fionula Linehan as Wishee Washee ready to delight audiences at this year’s Everyman panto ‘Aladdin’. Photo: Miki Barlok

The show will go on

It’s full steam ahead for pantos on Leeside this month amidst concerns that new advice from NPHET might have meant adult-only audiences.

Panto producers in Cork and around the country have banded together to assure parents and audiences of the exemplary safety measures in place for this year’s much anticipated panto season.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, CEO of the Everyman Sean Kelly said bookings for Aladdin are as strong as ever and that staff are very excited to welcome families to the theatre.

“We've had no cancellations at all. That's not been a factor for us, it’s pretty much at a normal pace for us,” said Mr Kelly.

He added: “The show is almost ready for people to see and everybody is welcome at the theatre. We've got all of the safety procedures in place and we're really excited and ready to go to work.” Preparations for the Everyman panto started later than normal this year due to uncertainty around restrictions but Mr Kelly says everybody is now rallying together to put on the best possible show for audiences.

He said: “We started rehearsing in early November which would be a little later than a normal year. We delayed our final decisions on most things for obvious reasons. There wouldn't have been any purpose in having big conversations about a panto in March, so it was all delayed until the autumn when we could properly assess the situation.”

Mr Kelly said pantos are hugely important for the Everyman and make up 20 per cent of the theatre’s yearly takings.

Meanwhile, at the Cork Opera House, CEO Eibhlín Gleeson said they have put every measure in place to ensure the safety of all patrons who see their panto, ‘Nanny Nellie’s Adventures in Pantoland’.

She said: “We care deeply about the safety of our patrons and very much understand that we have a responsibility to the people who attend our shows. This is something that we take very seriously. To this end, some of the measures we will take include checking vaccination certs and IDs at the door, following the regulations set out for the hospitality industry in our bars and social areas, together with safely managing the flow of patrons throughout our venues.”

She continued: “Panto is a special time for everybody and considering what our society has been through, we have collectively put our hearts and souls into making this year’s shows more special than ever. Now, more than ever, we need the support of our patrons. In turn, we will deliver a very special event for you, your family and your friends to enjoy this Christmas.

“Panto is the backbone of the theatre industry and in many cases, the revenue earned from panto is what helps to keep venues, producers and artists going throughout the remainder of the year.”

On Tuesday, the Government revealed new advice from NPHET asking parents to reduce indoor socialising for children aged 12 and under for the coming weeks in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 in that age group. This included indoor birthday parties and play dates, sleepovers, indoor community gatherings involving children including communions, confirmations, nativity and other seasonal events.