The Dancing Dead pantomime takes to the stage

Dylan O'Neill

A bloodied student limped across the wooden floor, coming to a rest in the centre of the room, as surrounding eyes looked on in anticipation of what comes next. 

The room erupted into a tremendous harmony as the opening bars of “The Whole Being Dead Thing” echoed from the speakers. 

A chorus of business executives, construction workers and athletes slouched forward and filled the room, as the final rehearsal for DCU Drama Society’s pantomime The Dancing Dead began. 

For final year teaching student Niamh O’Connor, directing the pantomime is her swan song with the drama society. O’Connor has been involved with two previous pantomimes in the society, both as a chorus member and leading character. 

“For me, it was ‘where can I go from here?’ and it made sense in my mind to come full circle. Let’s start someone else’s journey in drama the way I did,” said O’Connor.  

With a total cast of more than 30 students, the musically filled zombie-parody radiates immense heat from the rehearsal space. 

Writer and second year English and History student Liam Turner, was driven by his love of writing and took advantage of the open applications to try his hand at pantomime writing. 

“I wanted to deliver a story that was based in Ireland…with superhero stories and zombie stories, with everything we see in the media, none of it is based in Ireland, and I wanted to show how an Irish person would deal with it,” said Turner

Sarcastic remarks, musical puns and pop-culture references build a new angle to the age-old story of a zombie apocalypse that Turner and cast prepare to bring to St. Patrick’s Auditorium from December 3rd-5th. 

Encompassing a range of musical theatre sources for inspiration, Turner parodies the more traditional shows such as “Annie”, “Les Miserables” and “Spring Awakening” and marries it to the contemporary shows, such as “Beetlejuice” and modern pop anthems. 

The leading characters, and “nameless” archetypes, brings the show to modern audiences in an irreverent and sardonic fashion. 

Off stage, cast members pierce the director’s notes with the sharp squeaks of self-contained dance rehearsals in preparation of opening night. 

The director is not the only one with notes for the cast, producer and 3rd year communications student Sean Kennedy, spends his evening at the production tablemarking out the cues for lighting, sound and props. 

The production really began to feel real once the event was finalised and shared with the general public. 

“Once people started to interact with it, and the cast started to say to friends and family…seeing that materialise is the most rewarding part of it,” said Kennedy.

Choreographer Robbie Walsh and musical director Charlotte Cautley accompany Kennedy at the production table, keeping watchful eyes and ears on the cast, fine tuning the final melodies and jazz hands.

The lively back and forth between the cast, will give audiences a new meaning to the phrase “break a leg.”

Dylan O’Neill

Image Credit: DCU Drama