Jenny O’Halloran, 16, from Douglas in Cork, is one of six actors with special needs who have been cast in the chorus of this year’s Everyman Palace Theatre pantomime, Sinbad and The Sea Pirates, which opens in Cork next week.
Show director Catherine Mahon-Buckley, who runs the CADA Performing Arts Academy, said Jenny and her friends bring a very special energy and creativity to the stage.
“There is a child within us all. If we allow that die then we have lost the magic of what life is about,” she said.
“Jenny and her friends have that magic. They bring a ray of sunshine into rehearsals.”
Jenny’s mother Margaret said her daughter was very excited about the show — her third pantomime in a row.
“She’s up every day at the crack of dawn and it’s all she’s talking about,” Margaret said.
“We were worried the first year she might panic or miss her mark, but she was great. Her life is music.
“She loves the X Factor, and she loves dancing.”
Margaret said Jenny, who passed her Junior Certificate this year with flying colours, has also been inspired by her great friends at Christ the King secondary school, with whom she performed on stage in South Pacific last week.
“All the girls are so nice to her. They guide her gently around the stage,” she said.
Ms Mahon-Buckley, who has pioneered a special needs programme at her stage school for several years, said she believes her stage school is the only one in the country which casts people with special needs.
The show, which runs until January 9, stars Sean Carey as Sinbad and Jim Mulcahy, as his cook, Polly Unsaturate.
Tickets are €22.50 with a €80 deal for a family of four. Contact 021-4501673 or www.everymanpalace.com