Emma is Belle of the ball in Limerick panto

RTÉ presenter Emma O’Driscoll will tread the boards in her home city as the star of Limerick Panto Society’s annual Christmas show.

RTÉ presenter Emma O’Driscoll will tread the boards in her home city as the star of Limerick Panto Society’s annual Christmas show.

The children’s presenter will star as Belle in Beauty and the Beast in the society’s new location of the Lime Tree Theatre in Mary Immaculate College.

The society, founded in 1985, is currently busy preparing for the show, which opens in the 510-seater venue on December 28.

“This is an exciting new challenge for Limerick Panto Society and all involved are looking forward to many successful years at the Lime Tree,” said a spokesperson.

The society said it was “absolutely delighted” that Ms O’Driscoll had agreed to star in the show, its 28th annual production since 1986’s Cinderella.

The story has been adapted by John Finn, while Tim Cusack will return to play the Dame, with the multi talented Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill to play The Beast.

Panto veteran Damian Shaw will play Belle’s long suffering dad, while Lorna Maher and Kerrie Shaw play Belle’s sister, with Annie star Nastasia Vashko to play the Cook.

Keith McGuane plays the villain, with Stuart Mackey and Eoin Kelly as his sidekicks.

Tony Cusack, a veteran of panto in Limerick, returns to lead the production team for what promises to be “fabulous entertainment for all the family”.

The children’s chorus will be made up of performers from Spotlight Stage School and Expressive Arts.

As ever, Limerick Panto Society continues its policy of supporting children’s charities and this year the charity night performance will be in aid of the School for the Deaf.

“The society is delighted to announce that this year’s show will once again be in association with the Crescent Shopping Centre, who have always supported the group,” said the spokesperson, noting that a large number of other businesses are supporting the production.

Beauty and the Beast opens on December 28 and runs until January 6. Bookings on 061-774774 or www.limetreetheatre.ie.