VIDEO: Classic story of Beauty and the Beast gets full panto treatment in Cowichan

Early in the production, members of the cast welcome various members of the audience. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Felix the Poodle (Bill Levity) is unhappy to always find himself outside the action. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
‘Isn’t She Lovely’ sing the denizens of the castle when Beauty arrives. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Ma (Alex Gallacher) talks to the audience before the story of Beauty and the Beast actually begins. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
When Ma (Alex Gallacher) picks a rose for her daughter, Beauty, she is caught by a very angry Beast (Raine Edgar). (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Ma brings home a load of treasure, much to the surprise of the villagers of Duncan, France. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Because the Prince is not interested in her, the evil Malabelle (Cathy Parkyn) decides to put a spell on him, turning him into a beast. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The wicked Malabelle (Cathy Parkyn) reminds the villagers of her powers. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The evil Malabelle (Cathy Parkyn) is looking to hook the Prince, at any cost. (Lexi Bainas/Bainas)
Felix (Bill Levity) and Malabelle (Cathy Parkyn) find ‘poodle passion’ as the show ends. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The Prince (Raine Edgar) and Beauty (Lily Wilson) find each other in a dream. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Felix (Bill Levity), Ma (Alex Gallacher), Capucine (Sunny Flaman), and Jacques (Brandon Newall) head out through the woods in ‘Beauty and the Beast: the Pantomime’. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Ma (Alex Gallacher), Beauty (Lily Wilson), and Jacques (Brandon Newall) talk about the Beast and his ultimatum. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
In this production, Ma is vintage Alex Gallacher; he even appears as a man playing a woman who’s disguised as a man. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen) In this production, Ma is vintage Alex Gallacher; he even appears as a man playing a woman who’s disguised as a man. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The Beast (Raine Edgar) and Felix the Poodle (Bill Levity) stare at each other in what they think is a magical mirror. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
In a stilted dinner, the Beast (Raine Edgar) tries to get Beauty (Lily Wilson) to accept him. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
The Beast (Raine Edgar) threatens Ma (Alex Gallacher) after she tries to pinch a pretty rose to take home to her daughter, Beauty. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
One of the many song and dance numbers in Beauty and the Beast gives a large number of the cast a chance to shine. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Felix the Poodle (Bill Levity) is surrounded by dreadful wolves in the forest. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
All’s well that ends well: the entire cast dances to ‘Happy’. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

The Shawnigan Players began producing Christmas season pantomimes in 2006 with Snow White.

With that hilarious production, they were “off to the races”, as group president Bill Levity says.

The shows have continued, gathering a bigger audience every year, culminating with 2019’s Beauty and the Beast: the Pantomime.

Lily Wilson played dainty Rose, the Beauty, and Rain Edgar was the strapping Prince, who became a Beast as the result of a wicked spell from the jealous Malabelle played with delicious malice by Cathy Parkyn. (In true panto tradition, she drew plenty of hisses and boos from the packed house when we attended on opening night.) Alex Gallacher contributed his usual stellar effort as Ma, Rose’s mom, who was at one point in the position of being a man disguised as a woman, who’s disguised as a man.

Jacques (Brandon Newall) and Capucine (Sunny Flaman) made another unusual couple and Bill Levity rounded out the main characters as Felix the Poodle in his usual exuberant style.

There was plenty of singing, dancing, and mayhem as the plot wound its way through the forest to the castle and all places in between. The object is to provide entertainment during that strange period between Christmas and New Year’s Day, giving a wide variety of ages the chance to tread the boards, and, continuing an age-old tradition, stage a fun show for the whole family.

A great job, well done.

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