A Christmas Wish

‘A Christmas Wish’ is short musical pantomime – at about 75 minutes, the ideal length for young children. This pantomime has plenty of meaningful songs, with mild messages to the children about the real meaning of Christmas, such as sharing, prejudice and being grateful for what we have in current times. It is NOT a lecture but is softly blended and delivered to sink in, without the child even knowing.

The panto was devised and written by Noel O’Neill for the Irish Theatre Players. This colourful show can be seen at The Irish Club of WA, Townshend Road in Subiaco. The evening performances have curtain up at 7.30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday until the 19th December. There are Saturday and Sunday matinées on 12, 13, 19 and 20th December at 2.00 pm.

Tickets are from www.Trybooking.com/BMFRU.

The Scene:          The First Act is on the auditorium floor in front of the stage and is the Orphanage

                     The Second Act is the interior of the stable on MacDonald’s farm.

The Set:               The orphanage has wooden benches and no home comforts. In the corner, behind the children is the Elf on the Shelf’s area (a tall stepladder).

                                Despite the small stage, the stable is impressive with wooden plank walls, straw bales, a large barrel and at the rear of the stage a door leading to the farmyard.

The lighting design is by John Woodcroft and the tech operator for sound and lights is Josie Hacking.

Stage manager and child-herder is ‘brave’ Sean Byrne.

                We join nine children aged from 6 to 16 scrubbing the orphanage’s stone scullery floor. They sing of their misery. Never a day off work, no Christmas tree and no special lunch. From above, Andy, The Elf on the Shelf (Shivas Lindsay) welcomes us as he watches their every move.

Everyone goes quiet when the big, ugly and cruel teacher Mrs Penelope Crab (James Hagan) and her henpecked dipsomaniacal husband, Mr Rudolph Crab (Noel O’Neill) enter. The children are informed that yet again there will be no day off for Christmas. The two older boys Peter (Piers Motherway) and Paul (Luke Chappell) try to start a revolution. The smaller children, Siobhán (Sophie Lindsay), Kendall (Teagan Chang – delightful), Pam (Nina McKeown), Michael (Stephen Walsh) and Tom (a girl, Ciara ‘Kia’ Walsh – has already superb stage skills) in their ragged clothes, captured the hearts.

                In the stable Little Boy Blue (Evie Madeleine – beautiful voice) is indeed feeling blue but his loving caring Mother (Vivienne Marshall) gives him support and advice. Andy Elf is talking to the senile and deaf Old MacDonald (Rex Gray) without getting any success.

The King (Rory Buckley) and Queenie (Caroline McDonnell) arrive at the orphanage and are welcomed by Rebecca (Lily McKeown). Can the Royal visit change life in the town?

The children were all wonderful. Some were in their first stage show, yet they conquered all the words to the songs, sang well and had their stage positions and movements off pit-pat. One of the best infant or junior groups I have seen for some time. Very well done.

The accompanying piano music was played on an electric keyboard by Jenny Whyte, who worked sympathetically with the youngsters.

The director, Noel O’Neill has tried something different. There are still lots of well-known pantomime personalities from The Dame, to nursery rhyme characters and of course Mr S.C. himself (Stan O’Neill). The script explains the sad state of lives today, which is important for children to know, but without getting too heavy.

A pleasant little panto well performed.