Jack (Tasha Ballantyne, right) discovers that her cat Puss (Randy Humchitt) can talk during rehearsals for Puss in Boots at Bailey Studio on Dec. 14. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Theatre Group stages ‘Puss in Boots’ for annual Christmas pantomime

Stage director Judy Powers makes Nanaimo Theatre group debut

The Nanaimo Theatre Group is capping off 2017 with its first-ever fairy tale musical.

The local theatre company is staging a production of Puss in Boots by British playwright Ben Crocker for its annual Christmas pantomime.

The play tells the story a commoner and his talking cat attempting to save a princess from being married off to a wicked ogre. A pantomime, or “panto,” is an over-the-top musical with exaggerated characters and bright costumes and typically includes drag. For example, the male protagonist might by played by a woman, while the queen is played by a man.

The play marks the Nanaimo Theatre Group debut for stage director Judy Powers. Powers hails from Edmonton and directed children’s plays in Calgary but this is her first pantomime.

“The panto is such a popular thing here in Nanaimo and on the Island. I think it’s because of the British influence,” she said.

“We didn’t have pantos in Alberta. It’s interesting that it’s so popular and it’s fun and I see, I don’t want to say a ‘cult following,’ but there’s a following. The panto following.”

Powers said she’s been leaning on her experience with children’s theatre during the production of Puss in Boots. She said the two forms are similar in their storytelling and teaching element and how their characters display the “essence” of humanity.

She described the last two months of rehearsals and preparations and fun and challenging due to the number of characters, scenes, costume changes and technical effects. They’ve only been rehearsing in full costume for the past couple weeks and she’s impressed with how the show is coming together.

“Just in the last, say, week of November did we start to see all the layers come into play and I’m amazed with the speed,” Powers said.

“One day you’re at one place and the costumes and the sound, it helps the actors to create a whole character. Once they have that costume on they walk differently. They move differently.”

She added that an early audience was enthusiastic after sitting in for a sneak peek of one of the scenes. Audience participation and fourth-wall breaking are typical of pantomimes, said Powers, as is a general disregard for the rules of conventional theatre.

“We can see the inside of the character more readily. So if someone’s falling in love, you actually get the love music, the happy dance, that kind of thing,” she said.

“It’s a challenge for the actors because they have to play on many levels at one time. They have to really give to the playful atmosphere and be willing to take lots of risks.”

WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Theatre Group production of Puss in Boots at Bailey Studio from Dec. 21 to 23 and 26 to 31 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 23, 26, 30 and 31 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets $16.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

WATCH: Soon-to-be guide dogs take part in the Amazing Puppy Race

10 puppies training to be guide dogs took part in a social Easter egg hunt

Ancient microbes discovered off the Juan de Fuca Ridge potentially offers glimpse into alien life

The marine bacteria is dependent on hydrogen, a compound present almost everywhere

Sign forbidding rabbit drop-offs gets stuffed bunnies instead

Residents seemingly undeterred by strict wording this Easter

Islander finding her calling in fledgling community paramedic program

Georgia Nelson’s work in Chemainus part of a new wave of small community health care delivery

BC Boat show sails into Sidney

200 vessels are expected May 2 to 5 at Port Sidney Marina

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Stranded photographer rescued from rising Comox Valley waters

Responders use kayak to save man, equipment

Electronic music repels mosquitoes

New study finds Skrillex music slows mosquito’s feeding and sex

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Number of ancient humans continues to grow after discovery

Scientists identify at least 12 species outside of Homo sapians following discovery in Philippines

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Campbell River RCMP say alcohol and speed may be factors in collision

Woman injured after driver ran into her car on Highway 19A, says fire captain

Island MP demands return of lifeguards at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns says Lovekin Rock between Tofino and Ucluelet is a hazardous spot

Most Read