Northern Ireland news

May McFettridge leaves panto behind for her first opera

John Linehan with the cast of 'Die Fledermaus'. The Belfast comedian plays Frosch the jailer

MAY McFettridge fans are advised to hold off on light refreshments until after the third act of Northern Ireland Opera's 'Die Fledermaus', as it begins its Belfast run tomorrow night.

"I'm not on that long," comic performer John Linehan said ahead of the premiere at the Grand Opera House.

"You wouldn't want to go to the toilet. I come on at the beginning of Act Three and if you were at the toilet too long you would miss me."

However, Linehan plays a pivotal role in the Johann Strauss operetta, as Frosch the jailer in the piece which is based on a German farce originally entitled `Das Gefängnis' (The Prison).

And all that waiting in the wings has given the comedian plenty of time to appreciate the virtuosity of his fellow performers.

"They are superb. The singing is unbelievable. It is a very, very enjoyable show, there is great music. You hear it and think `I've heard that tune somewhere'. You think it's South Pacific or something, but it's actually 'Die Fledermaus'.

"The orchestra is superb. It's very different from panto where we have a five or six-piece band - there are four or three times as many and more all the time.

"It started out with just a piano and then gradually more and more came in to rehearsals and every performance is so perfect it could be a record.

"All we need now is an audience."

Audiences can look forward to the full McFettridge treatment.

"I did my make-up and showed them and they were happy enough. If you want May McFettridge she has to be as she is.

"There's places in there where you can ad lib and throw wee bits in - but you have to remember the other principals and give them their place and time."

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