The Source Christmas Panto- Directors Diary (3)

By Donal Gallagher

By Donal Gallagher

Cinderella – You Shall Go To The Printer... Finally.

September 11 (continued):

After a long day auditioning we have the bones of a cast. Jacob Keogh will make a charming Prince, and Jack Rossiter a fine Buttons – another staple of all Cinderella pantos. Traditionally the loyal friend and unrequited lover of the eponymous heroine, we have fiendish plans in store for him (don’t worry folks, he won’t be a serial killer).

But by 5.30 we’re still without a suitable Cindy. Cue Emily Mathews, enter, stage left. I have seen her before, sharing a stage with my nephew in the NYT last year. At the tender age of 18, Emily has already played in our National Theatre (which, after a 15 year career, is more than can be said for me). Immediately you can see why. It is rare to find an actress who follows direction so instinctively... she totally ‘gets it’ first time.

September 30th, 2am:

After three furious weeks of frantic typing, cutting, pasting, rhyming, composing & decomposing... I finally have a rehearsal draft. Missing the script deadline turns out to have been a blessing after all. It proves much easier to write when the actors are there in your head. In response to a great audition from Liz Clancy Kirwin, I’ve rewritten the king as a queen, or rather, The Queen. Yes, that One. The young Prince Harry will be sent out to emulate his older brother in marrying a commoner - this time a Tipperary one, building on Granny’s great work for Anglo-Irish relations.

October 1st :

It’s the first read-through, and I’m calmly and quietly planking it. Thanks to my total failure to meet deadlines, Claudia, the Mad English Woman hasn’t even had a chance to read it. What if they all hate it? I can’t just blame the writer this time. But most of the cast are present, and so I perform what I think is a passable impression of writerly and directorly confidence.

Thankfully everyone is laughing from the start. Even Claudia is giggling wildly at my treasonous depictions of the Royal family. I’m relieved. Even if it’s rubbish, they’re all doing a damn fine job of looking amused, so at the very least, I know I have a great cast.

October 9th:

Sadly due to prior commitments we’ve lost our original Baron, so the fair Cinderella is in danger of being more orphaned than traditionally planned. A good Baron is hard to find. Eventually my Ma accosts one at Mass. I kid you not. Poor John O’Sullivan is practically dragged from his pew by my brilliant maternal casting director. The following morning he foolishly opens his front door to us, and we refuse to leave until he accepts the noble title. I contemplate summoning the Queen to confer it on him there and then, in case he changes his mind... but realise this may just worry him even more.

Next Week: Horse theft in Wexford, and a flying toilet bowl... all in the name of Panto