1 December 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Many of Ireland’s largest Panto producers and promoters have come together to assure parents and audiences of the exemplary safety measures in place with regard to their upcoming live shows this Christmas.
After a period of uncertainty regarding restrictions, they are now confident that their respective shows can proceed. Some Pantos have already opened successfully to the public, with more opening in the next week or so, all for extensive runs into mid-January, 2022.
“We have put every measure in place to ensure the safety of all patrons who attend Panto,” says Eibhlín Gleeson, CEO of Cork Opera House. “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 ID’s 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.”
Promoters are asking patrons of all ages to wear masks for the duration of shows, in an effort to reduce any risk to other attendees. According to Michael Brady of The Helix, Dublin: “It’s really important now that the public work with us to make sure we are all playing our part. We know we can deliver a wonderful experience for the people of Ireland, but we need your help to do so. Mask wearing is one small way of making sure everyone gets to enjoy the panto in a safe place. Our casts and crews are remaining vigilant, antigen testing is being carried out on a regular basis in addition to mask wearing, social distancing and they continue to limit social interactions so that they can continue to work; so for the audience to support that by also wearing masks – that will most certainly help.”
Panto is the highlight of the year for many patrons, but also for artists and producers. Preparation for these large productions takes 8-10 months of planning and the Panto industry is the biggest employer of large scale theatre in the country.
“Panto is a special time for everybody and considering what our society has been through,” continues Ms Gleeson, “we have collectively put our hearts and souls into making this year’s shows more special than ever. We want people to know that we are open for business and that we have implemented every safety procedure to ensure that it’s a safe place. 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”
Pantomime represents a significant business in the Irish entertainment sector. In an average year, the Panto season is responsible for selling in excess of 310,000 tickets to patrons all over the country, bringing in approximately €9.8 million in revenue. It provides significant employment for up to 1000 professional artists, creatives and production crews. It also impacts hugely on the economy around the venues, where restaurants, hotels, shops and bars all benefit from the productions around the country.
“Our entire cast and crew cannot wait to get back in front of a live audience,” says Karl Broderick, producer of Aladdin with Alan Hughes at The National Stadium. “Panto has become a huge part of Christmas for many families and we are delighted that nobody has to be disappointed. The safety of our fans, cast and crew is of the utmost importance to us and all safety measures are in place. We’re ready, now all we need is you”.
Eibhlin Gleeson, – CEO, Cork Opera House
Sean Kelly – CEO, The Everyman Theatre, Cork
Michael Brady – General Manager and Claire Tighe, Producer, The Helix Dublin
Alan Hughes and Karl Broderick – Producers, Aladdin at the National Stadium
Pat Egan and Stuart O Connor – Producers, The Olympia Panto
Sinead Hope, Director & Robert C Kelly, Co-Producer, University Concert Hall Limerick