Panto tradition on six-decades strong for White Rock Players’ with ‘Babes in the Wood’

WHITE ROCK — When Lisa Pavilionis acted in her first pantomime with the White Rock Players’ Club in 1995, she never imagined she’d be back nearly 20 years later as a director.

But since her introduction to the tradition of the pantomime — a British-style, family-friendly musical characterized by groaner jokes, cross-dressing dames and loosely-based on well-known tales — Pavilionis has been hooked.

“(White Rock Players’ Club) asked me if I wanted to do it and I jumped at the chance just because it’s where I started off. I always loved the pantomime because of its magic and its family feel,” she told the Now.

The second-time director, who got her start in WRPC’s production of Rapunzel, comes in at the 60th anniversary of White Rock’s pantomime. The players’ club initiated the Christmas tradition in 1954.

This year, the club’s Christmas panto is Babes in the Wood, the story of classic fairytale characters on a journey to save Pip and Squeak, who’ve been kidnapped by a demon.

“It’s the traditional story,” Pavilionis said. “It’s good versus evil, and just about the journey to get there, the characters that you meet, the songs that you sing. It’s the whole package.”

The play, which incorporates 13 different characters, stars White Rock’s Hunter Golden as the demon, Ryan Elliot as Duke Don Darling and Scott Townsend as Simple Simon. Surrey’s Mackenzie Claus stars as Jill, Lionel Rust as Pip, Kay Ariel Lozado as Fairy Twinkle, Emma Harvery as Squeak, Bryce Mills as Mother Hubbard and newcomer YooRa Kang as Jack.

Is the huge cast a big responsibility for the second-time director? Well, perhaps at times, she admits.

“I always wondered why some directors kept it small and now I guess I understand that a little bit. But I just love having a big cast, and as I said it’s really family feeling,” Pavilionis revealed.

“I love everyone involved, everyone is so amazing and it’s so nice to see the kids running around.”

As for the modern jokes that punctuate pantos each year, Pavilionis divulges there might be a couple jokes about the, um, malleable iPhone 6 and the recent teachers’ strike that cut into the 2014/2015 school year.

Pantomimes are, after all, about the kids.

Babes in the Wood: A Christmas Pantomime kicks off Wednesday Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and runs until Dec. 27 at the Coast Capital Playhouse. Tickets are $15 to $20, and can be purchased online at Whiterockplayers.ca or by calling 604-536-7535.

kalexandra@thenownewspaper.com

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