Joe Conlan (63 years old) is an actor and panto dame, born and raised in Dublin, where he still lives. His first pantomime performance was at the age of 18 in Little Red Riding Hood at the Gaiety Theater alongside Maureen Potter and Johnny Logan. He also runs the RATSS Theater School.
I am very shy and quiet. I went to Nazareth School, Clarendon Street, where the Westbury Hotel is today. I speak very little but when it comes to creative things, I shine.
Tell us about your family.
I was adopted into a large family. I have four siblings – two brothers and two sisters. We never wanted to give anything. When you get home, there is always the smell of cooking in the house.
Did you know that you were adopted?
Yes, I always knew that I was adopted. There is no secret about it. That’s the way it was and I just got on with it. I’m not interested in finding my birth parents. I don’t mean ill but I’m very satisfied with my life.
Choose three words to describe yourself.
Focused, positive and determined.
Where does your love of theater come from?
I don’t live too far from the Gaiety Theatre, so I always insist that my path is laid out for me. My first professional experience was in the school choir, and nine of us were chosen to do it Joseph and his amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Tony Kenny. I’m 13 years old. I was also an altar boy in the College Church in St Stephen’s Green. When I perform at weddings, I will receive envelopes with a few coins so I will use that to buy panto tickets.
Tell us about your early panto memories.
Video of the day
I love Danny Cummins and Maureen Potter. As a child, I used to look down at the orchestra and see conductor Thelma Ramsey with white gloves and a baton in hand. I don’t know how Maureen remembers all the names of the greetings – she must have a super memory.
What surprised you most about Maureen Potter when you worked together?
Maureen was very nervous before going on stage. You won’t be with her while she’s standing to move on. When I did annie with her, she really showed her acting ability in the role of Ms. Hannigan.
When did you learn the most about stagecraft?
In the rehearsal room, watch an actor perform a part.
Celebrate Christmas the earliest?
As a child, I remember walking down Grafton Street to Switzers. And I love the florists that are still there and such an important part of our legacy.
The most memorable panto reaction as a performer?
One year, while we were writing a piece of music, a young boy got out of his seat and walked onto the stage. He wears glasses and I found out that he has a cochlear implant. I bent down to his eye level so he could read his mouth and asked for his name. Then I knelt down to do the dance so he could see me. We danced together. Then I received the most beautiful handwritten letter from his mother saying that that year made his year. He feels included.
The show must go on. Let us know how that applies to you on Aladdina few years ago.
In 2019, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. When the panto was on, I still had to do some treatments, so I did them between performances. I don’t want anyone to know. This is not about me being a martyr, I just want people to enjoy the show. Next year I did Camino (de Santiago) and grew up €14k to the Irish Cancer Society.
The best advice you give?
Don’t live in the past. Continue to look ahead.
Best advice given?
Believe in yourself.
’The Jungle Book’ at Dublin’s Gaiety Theater has been extended to January 22; ticketmaster.ie
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/theatre-arts/panto-favourite-joe-conlan-maureen-potter-was-very-nervous-before-she-would-go-on-stage-42207856.html Joe Conlan loves Panto: ‘Maureen Potter was nervous before she took the stage’