‘Santa Claus has gone green’

SURREY – If you saw Santa exchanging his stipend of milk and cookies for a kale shake and a handful of almonds, dropping weight until he’s a svelte 110 pounds, it might be cause for alarm. At least that’s what Mrs. Claus thinks in the Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of Santa Claus: The Panto. It’s in the tradition of the pantomime, or panto – a musical, family-friendly comedy characterized by groan-worthy jokes, cross-dressing actors and very loosely-based on a well-known fairytale. FVGSS is taking the story of Santa and giving it a yuppie, modern twist.The play, which opened on Wednesday (Nov. 26) at Surrey Arts Centre, stars Luke George Branson as Santa and Croy Jenkins as Mrs. Claus. "Santa Claus has gone green," explained Lyn Verra-Lay, one of the show’s producers. "So, he’s using his iPhone and he’s doing yoga and meditating. The man who’s playing him is about 5’10 and about 110 pounds, so he’s not your traditional Santa. Mrs. Claus is very distraught about this."The panto explores Santa’s new low-fat diet, penchant for technology and getting approached by clever coal salesmen who persuade not-so-jolly St. Nick that most kids are more naughty than nice. "There’s a Christy Clark joke in there – it has to do with the naughty and nice list, and we’ll let you guess what Christy Clark is," Verra-Lay joked.Political jokes aside, the producer said the plot relies on the magic of Santa and the hilarity of our modern lives. "Basically throughout, it’s this whole thing about Mrs. Claus trying to get him back to traditional Santa, and Santa saying, ‘No, we can still be green and healthy and still have Christmas,’" she said.The society put on its first panto in 1986 as a fundraiser for the group’s spring production, but the audience loved it so much that they couldn’t stop there. Santa Claus: The Panto runs until Dec. 7 at Surrey Arts Centre. The show is on nightly at 7:30 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Nov. 30 and Dec. 6 and 7. Tickets are $27.85 via Tickets.surrey.ca and 604-501-5566. FVGSS is accepting donations for Surrey Christmas Bureau on show dates.kalexandra@thenownewspaper.com

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