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Cowichan theatre groups combine to present Christmas pantomime

The audience is limited to 50 people for each show
The main players in the upcoming pantomime Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs will be Sam Mellemstrand as The Prince, Sierrah Borjeau as Snow White, Bill Levity as The King, Alex Gallacher as The Evil Queen and Grant Mellemstrand as The Mirror. (Submitted)

Are you starving for some live theatre? Are you starving for a good laugh?

The Cowichan Musical Society, Shawnigan Players and Mercury Players are teaming up this December to bring Cowichan a traditional Christmas pantomime, with all the crazy fun and laughs that go along with it.

Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs - COVID edition will take the stage at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Dec. 27 and Dec. 29-31, with two performances each day. The audience is limited to 50 people for each show, so you’ll want to get those tickets fast as they are sure to sell out quickly. They go on sale on Thursday, Nov. 12. Call 250-746-2722 to reserve yours.

The annual pantomime is usually staged at the Mercury Theatre, but the groups determined the venue is simply too small, given COVID-19 distancing and other restrictions, said Irwin Killam, president of the Cowichan Musical Society, who is co-directing the show with Anna Roberts.

“We’re trying to put on a fun show for Christmas,” said Killam.

“It’s [COVID] been a really hard hit for the performing arts community,” she said, pointing out that it’s been 11 months since the theatre has seen a live theatre performance hit the stage.

She said some of the actors that came to audition for the small cast of 18 were in tears when they left, so thankful to have a chance to perform again after a long and difficult hiatus.

“I’ve had so many people thank us for putting on this show,” Killam said.

It’s expected the live theatre audience in the Cowichan Valley will have a similar reaction to having the chance to see a show in person again, and the producers have made it as COVID safe as possible, Killam assured.

Along with the limited audience which will be rattling around in a theatre that seats 700, and small cast that can easily spread out on the big stage, they’ve also put the kibosh on live singing for this year’s pantomime. While singing on stage is allowed, Killam said, they are erring on the side of caution for all involved. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any musical numbers to enjoy. Sierrah Borjeau as Snow White has a solo that will run pre-recorded for her to lip synch, and there are other musical dance numbers as well. Masks will be required for audience members, though the on-stage performers won’t be wearing them.

It’s been a challenge, Killam said, but one the crew has taken on with gusto. The show will run with a skeleton staff and technical assist so as to fundraise as much money as possible for recipients that include the Cowichan Music Festival and the Cowichan Performing Arts Foundation, so that means no mics for the performers and only two techs running the show.

“So far it’s been amazingly positive,” Killam said of feedback on doing the show.

“Performing arts is not over,” she continued saying the idea is to “just keep hope alive for theatre.”

Filling out the main cast are some Cowichan Valley favourites with Sam Mellemstrand as The Prince, Bill Levity as The King, Alex Gallacher as The Evil Queen and Grant Mellemstrand as The Mirror.

Due to the limited number of seats, ticket prices are $25 for everyone this year, even if you are bringing a baby in arms.

Killam said the Island Savings has generously purchased 20 tickets that will go to people who cannot afford to buy tickets themselves. If you are interested in putting your name forward to get such a tickets contact Killam at 250-710-0010.

Show times are at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day, with a break between shows to clean the venue.

Andrea Rondeau

About the Author: Andrea Rondeau

I returned to B.C. and found myself at the Cowichan Valley Citizen.
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