Mandy Tulloch

‘Sword’ panto has British edge

Royal Canadian Theatre Company presents Sword in the Stone at the Surrey Arts Centre.

Get ready for the third wave of panto for the season, following the now departed Beauty and the Beast by the Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society and White Rock Players Club’s Mother Goose, still running at the Coast Capital Playhouse.

Ellie King’s The Sword In The Stone rolls into Surrey Arts Centre Theatre (13750 88 Ave.) for a Dec. 16-31 run.

Pantomime connoisseurs who like their seasonal treat – like their candies – with a distinctly British flavour will no doubt wish to sample the version served up by King’s Surrey-based Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

And this year’s show is British to the core, in that it purports to retell the legend of how young Arthur came to be King of the Britons by extracting said blade (Excalibur) from said rock formation.

“Well, it’s a panto,” said King, artistic director and founder of RCTC, who cut her teeth in the idiom in the environs of her native land. “Obviously, because it’s such a well-loved legend there are many versions; one that Camelot was in North Wales, another that it was at the site of Tintagel Castle, in Cornwall.

“In my version Arthur, with the help of two gnomes, G’Nigel and G’Norman, travels down from Wales to Camelot in Cornwall, because that’s where Excalibur is – and if anyone has a problem with that, I’ll whip out my artistic license and show ’em.”

Lest one think the show might be too mired in history, the Langley resident is quick to point out that Arthur (played by Mandy Tulloch) has grown up with the Welsh family of Widow Blodwyn Jones (Alan Cedargreen in accustomed Dame mode), who operates the local shop/post office, and her children Rhea (Jennifer Campbell) and Dai (White Rock’s Scott Townsend).

“I’ve written in one of the comedy set pieces from the 19th century, set in the store – I always like to include one of those as an homage to the traditions of panto,” King said.

But while the show is a rework of her 1994 Metro Theatre production, there is a considerable amount of new material, including an original song, Camelot, co-written by King and her husband and musical director Geoff. She’s also streamlined the show to make it more family friendly, she added.

“I think this year we’ve come in under the two hour mark – I say I’m trying to do that every year, but this time I think we’ve done it.”

Count on a panto brimming with fun, nevertheless, King said – as well as all the usual silly gags.

There’s a beautiful heroine, Guinevere, played by Claurien Zanoria (“She’s really cute,” King said) a wonderful “wizzard” – Merlin (Bob Wilson), a magic mirror and characters with named likes Owen Money and Amaryllis Plant.

There are Druids, trolls, sheperdesses and at least one dragon: the diminutive Idris, played by young Holly TenHaaf.

And all the requisite villainy, of course, some of it courtesy of the evil Morgana Le Fay (Kerri Norris), with overall chaos supplied by a distinctly Scottish and impressively bearded Demon King (“call him McDemon,” King said) played by son James.

“He’s been after me to do the Demon King as a Scot for years and last year we had a Scottish good fairy, so I no longer have any excuse not to let him,” she said.

Any doubt that this is a family panto should be dispelled by the presence of two very junior members of the Elchesen clan, Cayleigh (only two-and-a-half) and her brother Aeron, five, who takes the role of G’Nigel.

But there’s also a plenty of experienced panto talent, courtesy of such King regulars as Cedargreen, Norris, and Tulloch.

“Mandy is the complete principal boy,” notes King. “She’s been doing a lot of work with Excalibur. There’s a fair bit of sword fighting in the show, particularly when Arthur fights the ‘ultimate horror’ that lives in the castle…but that’s another story.”

New this season is a “fantabulous” family Christmas Party (Dec. 17), featuring a magician, music, Merlin’s magical crafts table, Santa and Mrs. Claus – as well as the show – with all proceeds to the CKNW Orphans’ Fund.

For tickets, call 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca

Surrey North Delta Leader

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

Just Posted

33-storey highrise proposal coming to Surrey council, first of three phases

Second and third phases include 36-storey and 31-storey towers

Surrey city council moving to virtual meetings

For public hearings, people can register to speak via telephone

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

APRIL 4: Two people in Delta fined for trying to re-sell N95 masks

Man injured in reported stabbing near Surrey SkyTrain station

Incident happened around 9 p.m. Friday night

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Exercises move online with YMCA’s new nationwide virtual workout program

YThrive Home offers dozens of free workout videos for people during COVID-19 self-isolation period

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at Mission Institution; two other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, says correctional officer

B.C. community service provider hosts friendly art competition for youth

Theme for Pacific Community Resources contest is ‘finding the silver lining in difficult times’

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

TransLink to reduce service on some bus routes, SeaBus, West Coast Express

Changes start April 6 ‘due to low ridership and financial pressures’ amid COVID-19

Most Read