Ain’t nothing like a Dame as Eddie Drury celebrates 20 years in Panto

Eddie Drury has played a Dame in pantomimes for the past 20 years
Eddie Drury has played a Dame in pantomimes for the past 20 years

Slipping on the tights and plastering on the slap, Eddie Drury has fine-tuned the role of Pantomime Dame having played the role for the past 20 years.

Eddie is as comfortable in the macho world of boardroom soccer politics as he is on stage and has the quick wit to prove it.

Eddie Drury in  his role as Commercial Director at Glenavon FC with actor James Nesbitt

Eddie Drury in his role as Commercial Director at Glenavon FC with actor James Nesbitt

Torrents of taunts about his transformation into one of the Ugly Sisters is water off a duck’s back to the former postman.

Indeed Eddie has proved he has thick-skin. He is, after all, a Lurgan man, furthermore a Glenavon Football Club board member, who lives and works in Portadown.

The 58-year-old, who started out at Carrick PS, then Lurgan Junior High School, cemented his education at Lurgan Tech.

He started as a machine fitter and, after he lost his job, he got another job as a postman/porter in Lurgan Hospital.

Eddie Drury does the Camino de Santiago walk in aid of charity

Eddie Drury does the Camino de Santiago walk in aid of charity

For 30 years he walked the streets of his adopted home in Portadown as a postman for the Royal Mail.

Ever evolving, Eddie now has taken on the role of undertaker and he does a bit of chauffeuring with his daughter’s company.

He also works now and again for an events company stewarding concerts and football matches.

“I try to keep busy. I think it’s the best way. One day you’ll not be able to do the things you want to do.”

Eddie Drury dresses as Santa Claus every Christmas Eve to raise funds for the Southern Area Hospice in Newry

Eddie Drury dresses as Santa Claus every Christmas Eve to raise funds for the Southern Area Hospice in Newry

A member of Portadown’s Gateway Theatre Company, he has been in panto a lot longer than the 20 years he has accrued as a Dame.

“Milly O’Kasili talked me into joining The Gateway a long long time ago,” said Eddie, adding that he was around 25 years old at the time.

“I think I was Sinbad the Sailor,” he said laughing.

He then did other small parts in Pantos such as Babes in the Wood.

“She got my into it doing smaller parts and then I sort of quit for a while. Then someone took sick and I went back in 1999 as one of the bears in Goldilocks and The Three Bears. They had no Dame the following year and I have been there ever since,” he said.

Panto this year in Portdown Town hall is Sleeping Beauty. “It’s my third time playing the part of the Dame in Sleeping Beauty.

“We try to keep it family friendly so that everybody can enjoy it. It’s just the buzz about seeing people having good fun and going away knowing they have enjoyed themselves.

“We are obviously not getting paid so you are doing it for the love of it,” he said.

One of Eddie’s highlights was playing Jack and the Beanstalk. “My daughter Ruth played the part of Jack. So it was a case of the father of the daughter playing the mother of the son.”

Rehearsals usually start in September and Eddie makes no secret of how proud he is of The Gateway Theatre Group.

“We are probably the most professional of the pantomimes outside the major cities, even though we are amateurs,” he said.

As Commercial Director at Glenavon he admits to getting a bit of stick from colleagues, especially on social media. “I can take a bit of stick and I can dish it out better,” he said.

“When I was working in Portadown as a postman and Glenavon were going bad I got more stick,” said Eddie, who has been on the board at Glenavon for 21 years.

Renowned for his charity work, Eddie has raised thousands over the years. “I just enjoy giving back to people. I love to help people and always have done,” he said.

Every Christmas Eve Eddie dresses as Santa Claus in Portadown Town Centre. “I raised £864 on Christmas Eve for the Southern Area Hospice in Newry. People are so supportive, especially when they know its for the Hospice,” he said, adding that he is taking part in the Camino de Santiago walk for the sixth time this year.

The show. in Portadown Town Hall, start on Thursday January 17th and runs until January 26. Shows run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7.30pm with extra matinees on each Saturday at 2pm.