Drama Groups in Charlestown - First Pantomime in Co. Mayo
The cast of forty made four appearances during Christmas 1956, including a matinee. Santa Claus attended the matinee, which was for children, and presented each one with a gift.
The production of Cinderella was different to other productions for many reasons, it being the first pantomime the society ever produced. It was produced with a professional veneer of competency and quick change slickness, without previous experience in one of the most difficult stage media.
The fact that this town, which is Mayo's youngest town, had a breezy zest and a modern go ahead spirit, accounted for this. The production was well attended on each night.
The special lighting effects, which the society acquired from the Bundoran Drama Group, gave glittering and spectacular scenes. The orchestra leader Mick Mulligan was highly complimented for his leadership.
The Charlestown Boys Quartet of John Mahon, Seamy Fleming, Sean Honan and Frank Connerton, got great applause for their rendering of such classics as: Cool Water, and Hannigan's Hooley. The mixed chorus of six boys and six girls, gave a brilliant Performance, as did the magnificent dancers from the Marist Convent.
Mary Margaret Marren, gave a superb portrayal of Cinderella. She played throughout with a quiet and simple sincerity, that endeared her to all present. and with her delightful soprano voice, gave charming renderings of 'Some day my Prince will come' and 'Always'.
As her Prince Charming, Olive Gallagher displayed her admirable dramatic and musical talent. With exuberant vitality and gaiety, that was truly excellent.
Her fine contralto rendering of 'Serenade' and 'I'll Walk Alone', were received with great applause. In the role of Dandani, valet to the Prince, Bridgie Duffy brought to the scene a carefree vivacity and carried herself with splendid poise and gracefulness. Joe Logue's magnificent interpretation of Buttons received thunderous and well merited applause throughout the show.
As the 'Ugly Sisters' Mickey Frain and Bill Doran were excellent. Their father 'The Baron' was played by Paddy Henry, his perfect characterisation brought out of the part a supreme quality. As the 'Fairy Godmother', Francie Walsh, gave a truly artistic portrayal and her rendering of 'A Dream is a Wish' was one of the musical gems of the show. Alec, played by Seamy Fleming, was very competent. As Professor Dogsbody, Michael Frain, Church St. was the typical absent minded Genius.
The producer Eamon O'Hara and his assistant Paddy Henry, must be complimented on the excellence of the production and even though they had much talent at their disposal, They had no easy task in welding the principals into the core of the show.
Mrs Patsy Rafferty, A.L.C.M. was the musical director and was complimented for her musical display. The lighting effects were in the capable hands of Patsy Dunne, who together with the property manager, Sean Casey, were among the prime movers of the pantomime.
The Stage management was looked after by Messrs Mike O'Donnell, P.J. Brennan and Tommy Phillips. On Sunday night, the closing night, Canon O'Connor PP, spoke and in a very concise speech, thanked everybody who helped to make this Pantomime a wonderful Success.
He complimented the producer Eamon O'Hara, the cast, chorus, dancers and the men behind the scenes. At the start, Canon O'Connor knew it was a three hour show and felt he would not like to sit through it, but when the last goodbye was nigh, he would willingly sit and listen for another three hours.
The success which the Dramatic and Musical Society have achieved is primarily due to the important factors, the love for drama and the music inherent in its members.
This was acclaimed in no uncertain fashion by those who came as far afield as Galway City, Sligo, Claremorris, Castlebar, Ballyhaunis, Carrick-on Shannon, Bundoran and Roscommon.
The Fifties were coming to a close and a new dawn was about to appear in the Sixties, For the dedicated Charlestown performers.
Cathal Henry 2014