|The first ‘live’ show that John (or Seán as he was known to the people of his homeland of Barryroe) attended in Skibb’s Town Hall was the annual De La Salle P.P.U. Christmas Pantomime offering. This was in the early 1970’s and, let the truth be told, he was not impressed. Perhaps it was not so much the quality of the show that failed to move him, but rather that pantomime was not then his metier.But if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and so in 1974 we see John playing in Dick Whittington & His Cat the part of Archibald Fitzquinsworth. In 1975, he plays the Lord Chaimberlain inRumplestiltskin, whilst in 1976 he is the Lord Mayor in Puss In Boots. That year he also took on the role of producer of the show and he continued as producer for another nine years until the “Skibb Panto” went into temporary hibernation.
There is really no way that one can describe the awesome task that confronts the producer of an amateur pantomime production. There is always a large cast to rehearse and put in order on the stage. And then, every other conceivable job falls in the way of the unfortunate producer – he may have to make last minute additions to the script and introduce some “tropical” (sic) remarks. But John sailed through all the mayhem with his constant admonition to the players “go on – make fun.”
After some years, the pantomime was revived and there again was John, to give it that helping hand and get the show on the road once more. John often referred to a “play producer” that he had come across in his early days on the stage. This man was unconcerned whether or not his cast knew their “lines” – “shure ye know the story,” he used to say and he expected that by “knowing the story” the players could improvise and carry the play on to the end.
John O’Sullivan’s life in the theatre may have ended, but we can still recall with pride “His Story”.
– ‘A Yarn Amuses’
– (A.K.A. Séamus Ryan)