LIMERICK actor Myles Breen’s panto pedigree stretches back to 1995 and a stint in the Everyman in Cork as Pinocchio.
Every year since 1997, he wagers, has seen him don panto garb – increasingly, that of the Dame in recent years – and take to the stage for the festive season.
He returns this Christmas for his fourth stint in the Robert C Kelly and UCH produced panto, which opened this Wednesday and runs to January 3. Interestingly, it is his first appearance in Sleeping Beauty in a panto career that has very few gaps on an extensive CV.
“For me, it wouldn’t be Christmas if I wasn’t exhausted on Christmas Eve, with my ankles sore from wearing high heels and having lost weight from doing dance moves. But it means I can really pig out with the Christmas dinner,” he laughs of the show, in which he stars with Leanne Moore, George McMahon, Keith Duffy, Hilda Fay, Richie Hayes and Richard Lynch.
“It wouldn’t be Christmas for me if I wasn’t putting on the slap,” he roars.
He credits writer-director Karl Harpur with putting his own stamp on the timeless tale, which features a broad range of humour to suit all age ranges – as every good panto should.
“In fairness to Karl he has given the plot a good twist, so it will be very interesting to see what the audience make of that, because without giving too much away, there is a whole element of time travel involved - I will just say DeLorean and leave it at that,” he laughs.
“I think this one is really clever, really funny - and I must admit it is probably one of the silliest ones I have ever done in many ways. Robert is a fabulous producer and knows how to make this work and the UCH have really put out all the stops for a spectacular show.”
The cast have been largely together for four years now and Myles says they are his “Christmas family in many ways”.
“It is very intensive,” he admits. “But there is a few of us now that have been doing it for a fair few years now, so it is second nature. It is getting into a comfortable pair of slippers - but not in my case, a sore pair of high heels!”
It is just by sheer co-incidence that the veteran actor was also being recognised with a civic reception in his honour this Wednesday night, the same day he faced two panto previews in the UCH.
“I was sort of shocked; it is a huge honour for me personally but also mainly for Bottom Dog Theatre Company, because no matter what, theatre is a team effort,” he says.
Sleeping Beauty runs until January 3. See www.uch.ie.