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Meet the panto family as seven cousins, sisters and brothers star in show

FOR most teenage girls, seeing your dad dance in public to Gangnam Style would be excruciating.

But for Dublin girls Kelly, Ciara, Katie, Hannah and Sarah-Jane McGuinness, it's nothing out of the ordinary.

The girls -- Kelly and Ciara are sisters and cousins to Kate, Hannah and Sarah-Jane -- are starring in panto alongside their proud dads.

Seven members of the McGuinness clan will feature in Aladdin, being staged by the Rolestown Theatre Group in North County Dublin. An eighth member, Colm's wife, Orla, has a backstage role.

The McGuinness family have been part of the group for almost 30 years.

This year, brothers Colm (47) and Ian (48), along with their five daughters, make up a substantial chunk of the cast.

"This is my 26th in a row," Colm said. "The kids have been in it since they could walk, so we've been in it a long time. It's a family affair.

"I say every year this is my last, but I've been saying that for the past 10 years.

"It's a local community doing it and there's a lot of families in it; it's great. The girls are teenagers now, so the panto is about the only time they want to be with me -- otherwise they don't want to know me."

Colm's teenage daughters, Kelly (16) and Ciara (14), have been part of the panto troupe for several years.



"The girls are all good dancers and they'll take over eventually. But we have a professional producer, so there's no favouritism for the parts."

The clan are no strangers to working closely. Colm, his wife, Orla, and his older brother, Ian, run two golf courses and a hotel in north Dublin. Orla is helping put the costumes together for this year's panto.

Colm -- the panto dame -- says his singing isn't up to scratch but he somehow manages to get by.

"I wouldn't be a very good singer at all. I've two songs to sing and I'd say I'll clear the audience with them. I play Widow Twanky, so thankfully it doesn't really matter what I sound like."

"Colm has been a dame every year for the past 27 years and I'm not sure that he doesn't enjoy dressing up in women's clothes," Ian joked.

But Ian is the dad who has to shake his thing to tunes such as I'm Sexy And I Know It.

"I look like a total idiot in my costume. The girls do laugh when Daddy has to sing Gangnam Style. I get some slagging."

The Rolestown Theatre Group has been staging pantomimes for the past four decades.

The McGuinness family has managed to bring their family work ethic to the panto.

"It's good fun with the kids. It's pretty professionally put on, but it's a fun thing," says Ian, who plays the evil Abanazar this year.

"There's a lot of people involved for years and years and we've a good bunch of friends. Other people have a daughter or a son in it as well. There's a lot of hard work but it's worth it."



Dates

The McGuinness family aren't the only ones making this year's Aladdin panto a generation game.

Ian McGuinness's neighbour Tony Lynch with his wife, daughter and her two children are also taking part.

The show dates are January 11-13 and 18-20.

People are advised to book tickets beforehand, by contacting 086 878 0890 and then collecting them from the Golf Shop, Roganstown Golf and Country Club.

The show will be staged in the Rolestown Hall on the Swords/Ashbourne Road.

hnews@herald.ie