“We’re sold out every night, with a waiting list,” said a delighted co-director Irwin Killam as she looked at the crowd assembling for the Dec. 27 edition of the Shawnigan Players pantomime Cinderella at the Mercury Theatre.
And there was a good reason for that overflow crowd. In recent years going to the panto has become a tradition for many Valley families. It’s so much silly fun and it’s a great outing for family and friends between Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The audience was rarin’ for a good time and the Players delivered.
Every panto features at least a few men dressed up as women and the hero is usually played by a female, and this year’s cast played that to the hilt.
Mahalia Benty made a wonderful Prince Charming. (You may have seen her last summer when she played a very sultry Titiania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Handsome and bored with all the icky girls being tossed his way, this handsome prince made his valet, Dandini, (played by Cole Farquhar) into “Prince for a Day”, while the real prince went off into the woods to search for the perfect wife.
He stumbles upon Cinderella (Ali Platt) and is instantly stunned by her sweetness and beauty, despite her grubby, servant-style clothes. He has no idea she’s one of the three daughters of Baron Hardup (Adrian Ingham).
Her other sisters, Bubble (Bill Levity) and Trouble (Alex Gallacher), neither sweet nor beautiful, but a whole lot of fun, soon make their presence felt — to a chorus of boos from the audience (also a panto tradition).
Meanwhile, the Hardups’ page, Buttons, (played valiantly by Cameron Trustham), and the Fairy Godmother (played in a way that had to be seen to be believed by Gord Levin) really livened up the place, providing plenty of laughs for all.
Another source of humour was the entertainment provided by the red-tabard-wearing chorus, which included everyone from Kaj and Maren Reigert to Janelle Hardy, Chris Finlayson, Delaney Marat, and Jaxon Vaccher, all the way to Connor Lachmanec.
They danced, they pranced, they sang and showed off all kinds of skills along the way. The two Reigerts also even served as the mice-turned-horses who drew Cinderella’s coach (constructed very imaginatively of a few hula hoops and a wheelbarrow) and Bob Norris stepped up with a delightful turn as a palace servant.
But in the end, it all worked out well, with the Prince getting his Princess and the ugly sisters sent empty away, after a surprising reunion with their mother (Ian Rothnie), and the crowd went away humming and happy.