Lucan lad cast as lead in Civic Panto

By Hayden Moore

After a stellar sold-out run of 45 shows last year, The Civic Theatre is putting on another traditional Christmas-time pantomime and they have already picked their two leads.

The titular Snow White character has been filled by Finglas native Megan Clarke, while Lucan’s Conor O’Brien will play her counterpart, Prince Charming.

Megan Clarke Snow White and Conor OBrien Prince Charming 2 1

Conor O’Brien from Lucan with his co-star Megan Clarke from Finglas

Conor has been acting since he was just four years old when his parents enrolled him in Spotlight Theatre Group in Inchicore and he honed his craft there before joining Dramatic Action Stage School in 2012, when he was 10.

Now 17, Conor spoke with The Echo ahead of bookings’ opening for ‘Snow White’ on Tuesday, June 25, to let us know about what it means to be cast as Prince Charming, the increase in the amount of boys taking part in performance arts, and what audiences can expect from the show.

How long have you been acting?

When I was four my mam and dad put me into acting and I just haven’t stopped. I knew that I wanted to be a performer. I played football and all, but it was performing that I wanted to do. Then I just stuck it out with acting and it’s amazing that I’ve been given the opportunity to play the Prince, because I have worked hard to achieve my goals.

Who or what was your biggest influence growing up?

Like famous people? I’d say probably somebody like Zac Efron. When I saw High School Musical I was just like ‘I want to be that person’, dancing, singing and all. But I’d say it would definitely be my mam and dad because they put me into acting. It’s not easy being a boy and performing, particularly in school because all the other lads are playing football and rugby and other sports – it can be difficult as one of the only boys.

Why would you say it is difficult? Is it this sort of machismo attitude towards it?

Yeah, I’d say it’s partly that and it’s just that people don’t really know the industry. Like if a girl is performing nobody says anything because there’s way more of them, but thankfully more and more boys are starting to do it. That’s why I love seeing other boys dancing and performing on stage. I’ve been in loads of productions in school and they are supportive of it because they know it’s what I want to do when I leave school. It’s the same with my friends as well, they all know it’s who I am and what I want to do, and they are very supportive.

What was your first acting gig?

It was probably the end of the year show in the Olympia and we actually finished a show there recently. When I was 12, I was in a short film that was written and directed by students in DIT called ‘Me Buddy Muhammad’ which was about trying to spread multiculturalism. That was absolutely amazing to be like the main person in the film, seeing how they make it in the background, people offering me tips and advice – it really was amazing.

Conor OBrien as Prince Charming inThe Civic Panto 2019 Snow White 1

Conor O'Brien stars in Civic Panto

How did you come to be involved in the Civic Theatre’s 2019 Panto?

I went to see Jack and Jill last year and I just loved every second of it, it was brilliant. Then I saw the ad for the search for a star and I just thought to myself ‘this is an opportunity I am not going to miss’. I did the audition in May and there were loads of people there. It was an amazing feeling when I was picked to play Prince Charming.

When do you start rehearsals?

I think they start near the end of the summer; I can’t wait to get started working with all the junior dancers and all. I’m buzzing. I never thought I’d ever hear myself saying that I can’t wait for the summer to end, but I really can’t because I’m dying to get started.

Prince Charming is a character that has been around as long there has been entertainment, do you feel somewhat of a pressure playing such a widely known character?

There’s no real pressure because its something I love to do. I did The Cheerios Panto for seven years and I got to see how others played the prince, how they prepared backstage and all, but I will be putting my own spin on it, I’ll be making it my own. It’s my first real gig as an actor as well, so there is pressure that comes with that, but it’s not too much because it’s what I love.

Are you looking forward to playing out the dynamic between Snow White and Prince Charming?

Yeah, I can’t wait. The story of how Snow White and Prince Charming plays out and how they end up . . . yeah, you know the way it goes. It was a magical show last year, hopefully this year it will be just as amazing. I can’t wait to get started.

Tickets to ‘Snow White’ go on sale at 10am on Tuesday, June 25 with the show running from December 10 to 31.

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