Melanie Mercer (left) as Cinderella and Rosie Forst as the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella, the Panto,” a FVGSS theatre production at Surrey Arts Centre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 8. (submitted photo)

MINTY: No magic wand to create ’70s-themed ‘Cinderella’ panto in Surrey

Cast, crew and directors work hard to bring musical show to arts centre stage, starting Nov. 27

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

It’s almost bibbidi-bobbidi-boo time! Cinderella, the Panto, presented by FVGSS, the Surrey-based musical theatre organization, is set to hit the main stage at Surrey Arts Centre for a week-plus run starting Nov. 27.

This traditional panto, written by James Barry, is filled with tunes from the 1970s and tells the story of a girl who finds her prince charming. It’s a fairytale, so of course there is a happy ending. There has to be a happy ending because the cast and crew have been putting in three rehearsal nights per week for the last three months.

Director Mike Balser has almost lost count of how many pantos he has either directed or performed in. His enthusiasm remains intact – and that takes more than the magic required to turn a pumpkin into a coach. The cast for Cinderella includes newcomers as well as the very experienced. Bring all these diverse people together and turn a script into a show – that is Mike’s magic.

Music director Timothy Tucker is also a FVGSS veteran. There are 16 songs in this show – and that is a lot of music. Way to go, Tim. Kailley Roesler heads the choreography team, with Sydney Pauhl as assistant. The choreography has to be bright, tight and help tell the story. That is a real challenge and requires lots of practicing from the chorus. There is no magic wand to wave when it comes to learning the choreo. Oh yes, you have to sing as the same time as your feet move. Brain freeze.

Eleven-year-old Annie MacEwan is already a veteran performer, and this is her third panto with FVGSS. Great performer, and she doesn’t mind sharing the stage with her brother Robbie. It’s all in the family as mom, Rebekah, is a marvelous performer and has starred in many FVGSS productions. Ah yes, the family that ‘plays’ together.

This year, there are some performers you may have seen in White Rock Players pantos. Bryce Paul Mills – larger than life, as usual – is one of the ‘ugly’ stepsisters, and Angel Duran Heon is the other stepsister. These two need no fairy godmother to assist them. These guys know how to wear a dress – what else is there to say?

Fairy Godmother? Of course there is a fairy godmother. Rosie Forst returns to the FVGSS family for this panto. Last time, she was the bad fairy. She is brilliantly bad, but as the ‘good’ fairy she is bibbidi-bobbidi. Welcome back to a Surrey stage, Rosie.

Jesse Redmond is Buttons, Adrian Duncan is Baron Hardup and Juliana Peralta is the Baroness. Erin Mulcahy is Dandini and Prince Charming is played by Amanda Drebot. And wearing the glass slipper is a girl with a magical voice, Melanie Mercer. It’s all about the shoes, you know.

There is a lot of diversity in the cast and crew. Young and old. Newbies and veterans. It makes for a very magical mix and certainly celebrates all the positive aspects of participation in community theatre. It may not be ‘real,’ and we may never have a fairy godmother to make our dreams come true, but take this moment in time to simply enjoy. Laugh. Sing along.

FVGSS is making it quite easy to afford. For shows on Nov. 27 and 28, all tickets are only $12. On Nov. 30, if you are 60 or over, your ticket price is $18. Betcha the over-60s will remember all the ’70s tunes!

Cinderalla, the Panto runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 8 at the arts centre, located at Bear Creek Park. Phone 604-501-5566 for details, or go to the FVGSS website (fvgss.org) for more info, with a link to tickets.surrey.ca.

When you go to see Cinderella, bring a little Christmas magic along with you. FVGSS collects toys for the Surrey Christmas Bureau, so please bring an unwrapped toy to the performance. It makes a difference.

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email: melminty@telus.net.

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