Dame for a laugh: Everyman's dame Ciaran Bermingham on keeping up with the professional dancers

He describes himself “an actor who can move rather than an actor who can dance”. But as much as Ciarán Bermingham, the dynamic dame in this year’s Everyman panto, loves to move to the beat, it’s not easy being surrounded by lithe professionals dancers.

“They are all young, all fit and have been dancing for 10 hours a day for the last five or six years at college. Then you get me who arrives with a donut or a Mars bar in my hand while they are having their stick of celery,” says the 51-year-old..

A sneak peak from side stage #panto #magic

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Whether he’s treading the boards in his native Cork or in high-profile roles in hits such as Killnaskully, The Young Offenders, and Game of Thrones, his daughters, aged 21 and 17, couldn’t care less.

“I’m their permanent taxi. You’re always dropping and collecting. It’s a way of life that I come to accept. They are not impressed at all with what I do, which is great. It’s just a job to them.”

In between home and professional commitments, he’s carved out time to study for a degree in theatre drama at the CIT Cork School of Music.

“I never studied theatre. It’s something I always wanted to do. I’m absolutely loving it and learning a lot. I’m 30 years older than most of the class.”

* Beauty and the Beast, Everyman, Cork, runs until January 14.

What shape are you in?

I’m between shapes — the shape that I don’t want to be and the shape I’d like to be. I have a love of cycling and swimming but with the schedule I have, it’s often difficult to find the time. Now the panto has started, running around the stage for two shows a day will get me fairly fit again.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I eat loads of veg. I absolutely love it. I am one of these people who has more than their five a day of veg. My kids eat fantastic salad concoctions — couscous, rocket leaves, spinach and beetroot — and it’s rubbing off on me.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I love crisps. In a house of Tayto Cheese & Onion crisps, I would eat it my way through it and then build the house again.

What would keep you awake at night?

I cannot sleep if I know I’ve got to be somewhere at 6am the following morning. I try and get a nap in the afternoon the day before because I know I won’t sleep properly. I’m lucky I can get by on three hours’ sleep. My brain just kicks in and I’m in work mode.

How do you relax?

Reading. I drive everyone crazy because I might read five or six books at the one time. Music-wise, David Bowie would be my all-time ultimate guy. I’m getting reintroduced to vinyl. My wife bought me a record player a few Christmases ago and I’m having a ball with that. I love the crackling sound of the record just before it kicks in.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Charlie Chaplin, David Bowie, Donald Trump — he absolutely terrifies me, none of it for good reasons. And the explorer Vasco Da Gama — I’d want to know what it was like to find new territories, to go where no European of his time had been, to be bold and adventurous.

What’s your favourite smell?

When I had hair fadó fadó, I used Hairline Studio Gel . It brings me back to a summer I spent in Greece with my wife Michelle before we got married. We had a ball. I had a thick head of hair on me at the time and I was using the gel.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’d like to be taller. I’m 5ft 6in. I would like to be 6ft. With the tallness would come the thinness. I would like to redistribute my width to height.

When is the last time you cried?

I cry all the time. I’ve no problems crying. I don’t believe in blocking your emotions. I could even cry for happiness. The most stupid thing will make me sad.

What traits do you least like in others?

Selfishness and pretentiousness. People who forget who they are.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I can get odd over stupid things. As I get older, I’m getting grumpier.

Do you pray?

I talk away to god but I don’t use the mainframe, conventional prayers.

What would cheer up your day?

Winning the lottery. When you hear you got an audition. It sounds quite corny — just people smiling at each other and saying hello. A conversation with someone is worth 30 or 40 hours on your phone. Life is very simple when we make it simple.

Irene Feighan


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