One of the favourite regional Christmas panto producers – the Royal Canadian Theatre Company – is back this month with Ellie King’s Puss In Boots.
But local fans – for whom the traditional British-style show is just an important Christmas staple as turkey and pudding – should put their skates on.
Tickets are selling fast for this typically cheeky spectacle, which takes over Surrey Arts Centre’s main stage (13750 88 Ave.) Dec. 18-27, followed by a run at the ACT Centre Maple Ridge Dec. 31-Jan. 3.
A family show in every sense of the word (King wrote the script and produces, son James directs and husband Geoff is musical director – in a show overflowing with parent, spouse and sibling teams) it follows in a long line of seasonal entertainments offered by King’s familiar stock troupe.
RCTC regular Jackie Bruce (also choreographer) dons the fabulous footwear of the feline of the title, while other favourites include veteran King panto Dame Alan Cedargreen as Widow Miller and Crystal Weltzin as Anne Miller.
Stephen Elchesen returns as the Demon King (a role forsaken by James King in his graduation to panto director last year) while another favourite RCTC player, Elchesen’s partner-in-life Kerry Norris, plays the comedy role of Princess Sacharina, complete with Paris Hilton-esque pooch (“She’s absolutely hilarious,” King said).
Puss In Boots – based, very loosely, on an old French fairy tale – tells the story of young Colin Miller (Carol Davison) his sister and mom and friend Tom Tom the Piper’s Son (Brad Dewar) and how their fortunes are transformed thanks – almost entirely – to Colin’s magical cat.
“It’s the only panto I know of in which the hero is an anti-hero,” chuckled King. “Usually the hero or heroine goes on some physical journey or quest and overcomes evil with his or her bravery.
“Here, the hero does nothing – he’s got this magical cat that does all the work for him – and that rather tickled my fancy.
“It’s also the only panto with two principal ‘boys’ – and one of our principals, Carol, is also a principal of a school in Delta, so you might say she’s our first principal principal!”
King said she has taken care to include all the other traditional ingredients, but served up with her own individual touch.
“For me, a panto is like a colouring book – you stay within the lines, but the colours are your own.”
The Good Fairy (Lauren Trotzuk) is ready to foil the Demon King’s machinations at every turn (and match his “awful French accent,” King said – that’s our tribute to the show’s origins”).
The requisite cuteness factor is more than covered by the company’s tiniest troupers Little Puss (Elchesen and Norris’ daughter Cayleigh) and Teru Widman.
There’s also menace, of course, in the presence of Ogre Bonecruncher (Gareth Dyke), and romance supplied by Princess Marietta (Chantelle Anderson) – with extra humour, King said, in the form of her dad, King Pom Pom of Pomerania (Martin Keith Perrin), his somewhat corrupt prime minister Fiddle (Jeremy Glass), and a mime (Julian Legere).
Tickets in Surrey are available through 604-501-5566 or online at tickets.surrey.ca
For more information on both the Surrey and Maple Ridge shows, visit www.rctheatreco.com