Cloverdale actor tackles Crusoe Panto

Michelle Gaetz.

It takes talent and timing to pull off five different chorus roles in a single stage production.

Fortunately for fans of British-style pantomime, Cloverdale’s Michelle Gaetz has both.

For the third year in a row, she’s appearing in White Rock Players’ Christmas panto, a wacky version of Robinson Crusoe, literature’s ultimate shipwreck survivor.

In panto, the chorus is no mere backdrop – it’s a centrepiece of the production. Chorus actors sing, joke and interact with the story’s main characters.

Pantos are a traditional holiday offering the whole family will enjoy, blending acting, music, song and dance with broad, slapstick comedy.

It’s tantalizing turf for an actor, but surprisingly, Gaetz never wanted

to go the community theatre route. She has always set her sights on film and television.

But three years ago, she auditioned for the popular holiday panto – on a dare – and won the role of Princess Alice in Puss in Boots.

The stage experience fanned the flames, turning a love of acting into a full-blown passion for her craft. She set out to take acting classes, branching out into film and TV clinics at Chameleon Studios with White Rock’s Wendy Bollard. It was the push Gaetz needed to take her craft more seriously.

More recently, she’s been working with a Vancouver-based, private acting coach.

Unfortunately, her dream of working at Disneyland has hit a wee snag (no U.S. work visa) and her hope of landing auditions south of the border is so far proving elusive.

But the determined Gaetz isn’t fazed; she’s just getting on with it.

The task awaiting her in Robinson Crusoe might seem daunting; she’s playing five

different chorus characters, a job that requires multiple, lightning-quick costume changes.

“It’s a tight squeeze between entrances, but that’s what makes the show that much more exciting,” she says. “It keeps me on my toes.”

Gaetz can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction to this year’s show, presented at Coast Capital Playhouse. It lampoons the story of Crusoe’s voyage through the Seven Seas and adventures that follow after the crew’s shipwrecked on Cannibal island.

Directed by Katherine Bethell, the production boasts a top flight creative team that’s breathing new life into an annual event now in its 56th year, making it Canada’s longest-running community Christmas pantomime.

The set is inspired by illustrations in a children’s book. The music is a medley of classic tunes to sing and dance along to. And it’s a pantomime, so there’s the usual dames in drag, vile villains and cheesy laughs.

Robinson Crusoe, by Charlotte Johnston and adapted by The Charlottans, runs Wednesdays through Saturdays from Nov. 26 to Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. Visit whiterockplayers.ca.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Justice for Mona’ rally planned for Surrey

Security camera footage shows Mona Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Sources receives $70K from SurreyCares

Funds will help with warehouse space for food programs in Surrey, White Rock, Langley

Drive-in movies coming to Cloverdale

Dolittle, Trolls World Tour playing one night each at rodeo grounds

Rooftop hatchlings ‘a nice addition’ to White Rock RCMP operations

Pair of seagull chicks hatched in ‘fenced playground’ on July 2

COVID-19: ‘Contactless’ donation drive in Surrey to help women in need

Items needed for women in shelters, transition houses in the Lower Mainland

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Police nab three impaired drivers in one night in Maple Ridge

Ridge Meadows RCMP served 80 impaired driving infractions in June

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read