MINTY: ‘Pinocchio’ a bright light as panto season opens

Seasonal shows also staged by White Rock Players, Royal Canadian Theatre Company

A scene from the FVGSS panto 'Pinocchio

A scene from the FVGSS panto 'Pinocchio

SURREY — As the days dim in December, with shorter hours of daylight, isn’t it grand to see all the seasonal lighting go up on houses and streets? This extra light, though artificial, seems like a jolly jolt of energy to make our days, and nights, a bit brighter. I don’t like the short, dark days at all, so anything that brightens up the scene is most welcome.

The FVGSS presentation of the pantomime “Pinocchio” is one of those bright lights. Pantos are popular theatre fare this time of year, and we are lucky to be able to choose from three different ones right here in our neighborhood, so to speak.

“Pinocchio” is first of the three, and I was simply dazzled. Best panto I have seen in many years. It’s bright, brilliant, well written, and is full of song and dance. It only runs until Sunday, Dec. 4, so if you haven’t gotten tickets yet, this is your last warning. Terrific script by Barbie Warwick and Mike Balser (they also direct this production), stunning set design by Omanie Elias and clever cohesive costuming by Linda O’Donovan and Mari Anne Hussen with Chris Roberts.

As much as I loved the costuming, it was almost upstaged by the puppets. From the singing stars and moon to the seahorse, octopus, fish – and clams! I loved those puppets. Amazing and magical, and everyone will absolutely enjoy this show. Tickets at the Surrey Arts Centre box office, 604-501-5566, or CLICK HERE. Do bring the whole family, and the junior chorus of six young people will inspire you. Great live band led by Tim (the Tune Man) Tucker. Seriously, this is the best panto ever! Start dialing that box office number now. Oh yes, it is at the Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage.

CLICK HERE to see more “Pinocchio” photos shot at Surrey Arts Centre

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White Rock Players have presented a panto for 62 continuous years. This year the panto is “Alice,” a take on the iconic “Alice in Wonderland.” You know the basic story, but of course there is a twist, lots of singing and dancing and nonsense – just what you’d expect. I can’t tell you how good this show is because I am in it! Director Lisa Pavilionis cast me as the Queen of Hearts. Ah, evil queen once again. It is an adorable talented cast, and it difficult for me to always scream at them “off with your head!” Or maybe not.

“Alice” runs at the Coast Capital Playhouse in White Rock from Nov. 29 to Dec. 30, with days off for Christmas. Long haul, long run – and remember, everyone is amateur, meaning no payment in cash for our time and efforts. So come see the show. Join me in “Wonderland.” Tickets are available online at Whiterockplayers.ca/tickets, or call the box office, 604 536-7535.

Finally, in case you haven’t had your panto fill yet, there in the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s panto, “Beauty and the Beast.” Ellie King is director, and once upon a time, I named her the Queen of Panto. Pantomime is her favorite genre, and we have discussed it in length. This is a true traditional British pantomime, including lots of music, corny jokes, special effects, spectacular costumes and all the special magic you’ve come to expect from RCMTs Christmas pantos. There is always a happy ending – what more could you want? This show is also at the Surrey Arts Centre Main Stage, on Dec. 16, 17 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17, 18, 24 and 26 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are priced from $10 to $28; call 604 501-5566.

While the British pantomime is a seasonal tradition, you don’t get any more old-fashioned and traditional than carolling. You are invited to come carolling with Friends of the Grove on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 4 to 8 p.m. Supplying some music are “Music Therapists for Peace” Sue Baines and Steve Cotrill on accordion and banjo. Meet at 4 p.m. in The Grove (adjacent to Newton Bus Loop) to hang homemade decorations on trees there. Please make decorations from recycled materials! Decorations will be left up through December. Carollers will start with some singing in The Grove, then on to the Newton Bus Loop to share songs with people waiting for buses, then up 137th Street to Espresso Café for free hot chocolate and cookies (from 5 to 8 p.m., while supplies last). There will be free raffle prizes thanks to the City of Surrey’s celebration and activity grant, Music Therapists For Peace, Espresso Café, Friends of The Grove and Newton Senior Centre. Bring bells or drums to keep the beat! Musical instruments will be available to children who attend.

Now doesn’t that just make a dim December day a bit brighter?

melminty@telus.net

 

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