By: Tessa Perkins
It wouldn’t be the holidays without traditions. Some traditions can be tedious or even irrelevant, but one that is neither of those things is East Van Panto. This year the incredibly talented team from Theatre Replacement will present their own take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, full of East Van references, humorous references to current events, and bad puns.
In this version of the fairy tale, Snow White runs from the Queen of North Vancouver across the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and ends up at the PNE. Her adventure will see her dance with SuperDogs, ride Playland’s wooden roller coaster, and become friends with an ’80s rock group, the Seven Dwarves.
Now in its fifth year, this annual pantomime has become a cherished East Vancouver holiday event. Pantomimes have a long history in Britain as holiday entertainment, but it wasn’t until the Cultch and Theatre Replacement teamed up to create the East Van Panto that we had our very own made-in-Vancouver pantomime tradition.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of pantomime is the audience interaction. The crowd is encouraged to boo the villain, cheer for the hero, and shout out helpful tips such as “she went that way!” or “she’s behind you!” Crossdressing and exaggerated makeup and costumes are another panto convention that adds to its silly brand of humour. With a good balance of slapstick, puns, and political humour, pantomimes are great family entertainment.
Writer Mark Chavez and director Anita Rochon return to this year’s creative team and they are joined by the incomparable Veda Hille and Ben Elliott (music and lyrics) and an all-star cast: Allan Zinyk, Chirag Naik, Amy Rutherford, and Ming Hudson as Snow White. With its emphasis on local artists (including Studio 58 students and local children) and references, the East Van Panto has become a beloved tradition.
Will Snow White be able to escape the clutches of the Queen of North Vancouver? Will her new friends the Seven Dwarves be able to help her through ’80s rock songs? Will she find her prince at the PNE? I can’t wait to find out. If this isn’t already in your holiday plans, I suggest checking it out. After all, there are only so many versions of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol that I can take.
East Van Panto: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves will be presented by Theatre Replacement and the Cultch at the York Theatre from November 29, 2017 to January 6, 2018. There will be a post-show Q&A on December 3, 10, 12, and 19. For more information, visit thecultch.com.