Panto Director Daryn Crosbie has said he is thrilled to be staging 'The Little Mermaid' at the Gaiety this year, which also marks the Dublin theatre's 150th birthday.

There was no panto last Christmas - unlike some other venues, the Gaiety opted not to produce an online version of its show - so this production has been two years in the planning.

With over 90 people working on the show and many elaborate scenes, Mr Crosbie describes the production as "challenging" but ultimately very rewarding.

"Eighteen months without being able to set foot on stage was awful - but now we are back," he said.

Although audiences see panto as a seasonal event, planning the shows can take months. In fact, Mr Crosbie says preparation for the following year's event begins as soon as the panto ends in January.

The Gaiety has over 90 people working on this show, including cast, musicians, backstage and front of house workers.

Costume designer Pauline McCaul says that working on the panto is a year-round task, as she is constantly sourcing material and planning designs. She and her team have been back full time at the Gaiety since the summer working on this year's show.

As previews were being held, news came through to the production that children under-12s are being advised to limit social contacts and indoor gatherings for the next two weeks, however the Gaiety team is remaining upbeat, saying the audiences have been responding very positively to the shows so far.

Ciara Lyons, who plays 'Ariel' in the panto, says that watching the children in the audience is magical, as many of them will not have seen a live show before.

"Their faces are lit up", she said.

"They are in total awe."

'The Little Mermaid' opens this Wednesday, one of many pantomimes being staged around the country this Christmas.

Panto producers are hoping that if parents choose one event to attend indoors over the holidays, they will continue to make panto part of the Christmas experience.

Read more: This panto cast and crew will be ready. Will audiences?