Photographs by Glen Mc Namara Photography
Usually our family car journeys consist of grumbles, bickering and discontent, but not on Thursday evening. Thursday saw us become the Von Trapp family as we merrily sang our way to Dublin’s Olympia Theatre. The reason for this gaiety was because we were going to see the much anticipated panto. But we weren’t going to see just any old panto – oh no we weren’t! We were going to see Cinderella - the season’s most talked about panto, starring none other than the one and only, Jedward.
From the moment the curtain rose, we were treated to a riot of colour – most of which was worn by the fabulous and hilariously funny ugly sisters, Alan Kavanagh and David Doyle. The script, by the very talented Fiona Looney (@fionalooney) was written as much for adults as for children, with topical jokes and references throughout. Although it was clear who the audience was waiting for because throughout the opening minutes of the show, we were teased with the first few beats of Under Pressure which caused the crowd to squeal and clap in anticipation.
When the boys eventually arrived, they owned the stage. When I got over my initial disappointment of them not being cast as the ugly sisters, I realised they were perfectly cast as the Fairy Godmother’s helpers. They embraced their roles with gusto – bounding around the stage, waving their magic wands and generally buzzing with the Jedward energy we’ve all grown to love. Much to the delight of the crowd, we were treated to a number of their hit songs during the show, including All the Small Things and Ghost Busters.
Being annual panto goers, I’d have to say that this was by far the best one we’ve ever seen. It had a real contemporary feel to it while still remaining true to what panto is all about. On top of that, we adults felt we were treating our kids to a Jedward concert, without it actually costing us a small fortune.
Although unprepared, I knew I’d have to seize the opportunity and try to grab a few minutes with the twins. So thanks to Stuart O’Connor of Spotlight Productions and the lovely PR people, I was brought backstage after the show. Bizarrely, I was introduced to the boys while they balanced on top of a giant Cinderella shoe. “Hiya,” they shouted in unison, waving frantically as they pulled all sorts of faces for the very patient photographer. “This is so much fun – you should try it!” Em… no! Oh God, I could see they were still buzzing from the show and they put me in mind of my seven year old after he’s had a belly full of sweets.
When they were safely back on the ground, I knew my time was limited with them so I began by confirming which was John and which was Edward. “You got it right!” said John. “Hardly anyone knows us apart. That’s amazing.” I smiled smugly as I slipped the piece of paper into my pocket that told me John always stands to Edward’s right!
Now that I’d impressed them with my powers of perception, I got on to asking them about the panto. “We love it,” enthused Edward. “It’s so cool to be part of such a brilliant cast. I mean, Linda Martin (who plays the Fairy Godmother) – she’s a legend.”
“And it’s great that we have a chance to speak too rather than just singing,” adds John. “The script is so funny – we love being able to make the audience laugh.”
I wanted to know what it meant to them to be performing in their home city every night and do they get nervous. “It’s the best feeling in the world,” said John. “And we don’t really get nervous at all. Our fans are so amazing and they just spur us on. It’s great to be performing in Dublin but it’s not just a Dublin crowd – our fans are coming from all over to see us.”
“And to be in the Olympia is amazing,” says Edward. We often came here as children to watch shows and now people are coming to see us. It’s crazy. All 34 shows have been sold out since, like, forever. And did you know that tickets are already selling for next year’s panto? It’s called Jedward and the Beanstalk. It’s going to be so cool because we’ve just enjoyed this so much and now we know we’re going to be doing it again next year and it’s just like… wow!”
I felt as though I was trying to catch a runaway train. Before John took over where Edward left off, I asked them about Twitter. Considering Jedward (@planetjedward) have over 145,000 followers and so little time, I wondered if somebody else operated it for them. “Are you serious?” they asked, at the same time, in the same tone! “Of course we operate our own Twitter,” said John. “We love it. It’s such a close contact with fans. Our fans are the best and they send us so many messages and good vibes. It’s cool that we can talk directly back to them.”
The unstoppable force of Jedmania has seen the twins regularly appear on tv since their X Factor days. Their ITV2 documentary Jedward Let Loose and advertisements for products such as Rowntrees Randoms and Nintendo DS game Beast Quest IX has ensured they’ve remained firmly in the public eye. I asked them if they enjoy doing stuff like that or if they’d prefer to stick to performing to their adoring fans. “We actually enjoy everything,” said Edward, enthusiastically. “We’ve just done another tv ad for Travelsupermarket.com and we had the best fun doing it. We filmed it in South Africa – it was such a cool experience.”
So with the panto finishing this weekend, what can we expect to see from Jedward over the coming months. “Oh my God, we’ve so much planned,” said John. We have a new album coming out in March so we’re really excited about that. We have such a cool name for it too.” As I wrote the album name down, Edward suggested I don’t say what it is because it’s just a name they’ve dreamed up – not an official name! Eeeek!
“We’re also going to be touring Ireland in April and the UK in May,” said Edward. Our concerts are going to be bigger and better than ever with twenty-six songs every night.” Gulp! Twenty-six Jedward songs? That’s a whole heap of bouncing for one night! Don’t they ever burn themselves out? “Never,” said John, firmly. “We’re known for our energy so that’s what we like to give. Jedward wouldn’t be Jedward without full-on, electric energy.”
And speaking of energy, I wondered how Edward’s leg was holding up after last year’s horrible injury. “It’s good,” he said, pointing to the offending knee. “I have regular physio so that seems to help a lot. In fact, I just had a session today so I’m feeling pretty well at the moment.”
At this stage, I could see the boys were needed elsewhere and I was going to have to let them go. But not before I had a feel of the famous hair! “Go ahead, push it right down,” said John, obligingly. “It’ll just bounce right back up again.” And it did!
And so our interview had come to an end. It was pretty bizarre but strangely enjoyable. John and Edward Grimes are two lovely lads; totally appreciative for all the good things that are happening in their lives and determined to give back as much as they can to their fans. Their energy and zest for life is infectious and I have to say, I came away with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
As I’d managed to whip John away from his brother for a moment to meet my four children, I was crowned Mammy Magnificent in the car on the way home. There was much excitement and many comments such as “You’re such a cool Mammy” and “We’re so lucky to have a Mammy like you”. So I basked in my well deserved glory until my nine year old asked: “So next week, can you interview Justin Bieber?” Em…!