Alex Gallacher, left, and Brandon Newall are just two of the familiar faces in the pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, starting on Boxing Day and continuing to New Year’s Eve. (Submitted)

Get your panto tickets now, or ‘Beauty and the Beast’ may slip away from you

Shawnigan Players’ annual Christmas pantomime hits stage Dec. 26-31

In less than a week, it will be “Panto Time” in the Cowichan Valley.

The Shawnigan Players are presenting another in their series of memorable pantomimes, hot on the heels of 2017’s A Christmas Carol and 2016’s Cinderella.

This year it’s a rendition (from “rend” meaning to tear apart) of Beauty and The Beast, written by Ben Crocker and directed by Maggie Sullivan.

As in previous years, the venue is the Mercury Theatre, at 331 Brae Rd. in Duncan, and from Dec. 26-30, at 7 p.m. and Dec. 31, at 2:30 p.m., it will be next to impossible to get parking on Brae as crowds throng into the old building to enjoy what has become a real Valley tradition.

There’s a show on Boxing Day evening and on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, so it’s a great place for your turkey-weary/ malled-out family and visitors. The only problem is that everyone else has realized that, too, so tickets become as scarce as hen’s teeth just about now.

Tickets are $10 for youth 12 and under and $15 for all others and are available at Ten Old Books, Duncan and Masons Store in Shawnigan Lake as well as at the door.

Information and email booking are also available from levitybill@gmail.com.

So, what’s onstage? Expect your usual round of fantastical characters (talking furniture, giant poodles, a Beastly Beast, a Beautiful Rose) as well as political barbs and local humour. Of course, everyone is encouraged to loudly boo and hiss the Evil Characters and cheer on the Heroes. This is part of pantomime tradition as are the sing-alongs.

Oh no, they aren’t! Oh yes, they are!

The audience can enjoy watching the characters come alive in the mythical town of “Duncan, France”.

Some of the Cowichan Valley’s most beloved players are part of the cast this year. See Alex Gallacher as MA, Brandon Newall as Jacques and Bill Levity as The Giant Poodle, Felix.

But, there are also many new actors who have joined the gang this year.

Cat Parkyn is The Evil Witch Malabelle, Raine Edgar is the Beast and Lily Wilson is Beauty and there are many many more, according to Bill Levity, who says, “This is a definite family affair with many sibling and youth/parent connections that make for wonderful chemistry.”

The wildly imaginative costumes are by Jan Ovans and help from Sue Cook with Dianne Boucher. Music direction is by Laura Sirmul and Michelle Thiberge and choreography by the talented Jordynn Sanchez-Shuttleworth.

“This is the best way to beat the winter blahs and a heck of an entertainment value,” says Levity and we agree, based on years of enjoyable entertainment.

As mentioned above, we can’t urge you enough to get those tickets as soon as you can. These shows frequently sell out.

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Get yourself in the frame and make your way to the Mercury Theatre for the annual Christmas pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, running Dec. 26-31. (Submitted)

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