Family theatre group introduces holiday panto

Traditional Snow White story gets amped up with local lore

Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People brings the pantomime featuring Snow White

A Snow White like no other takes the stage this winter.

“It’s based on the original Grimm. You take a leap from Walt Disney, then because it’s panto it has all these strange elements. In addition to the usual characters you end up with Prince Valiant, Simple Simon and Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee,” said Marcus Handman, general manager and producer of Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People.

The Oak Bay resident says the seasonal show fills a space between Christmas and New Year, lighting the dark stage at McPherson.

“Traditionally we have done a musical in the fall and we’ve had some good success, but we wanted to do something more family oriented and more what Kaleidoscope is supposed to be about,” Handman said. “Then there’s that whole stretch between Boxing Day and when the kids go back to school and everybody’s home and looking for things to do.”

Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People brings Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs in a hilarious adaptation by director Stephen Andrew, to the McPherson stage Dec. 27, 28 and 29.

“It’s been a dream to bring a British panto back to the McPherson Playhouse,” said Andrew. “Twenty years ago members of the theatre’s crew and I were sitting backstage talking about how much fun it would be – and here we are.”

In fine panto tradition, famous Victoria faces on stage include Astrid Braunschmidt and Ed Bain while inside jokes featuring local references abound in the script.

“The Seven Dwarves also have some familiar dwarves, but there will be some unfamiliar dwarves as well,” Handman said. “Six of the seven dwarves are played by children – there’s a nice surprise about the seventh dwarf. These kids are so talented, so that’s been a treat for us watching this all come together. … They’re so enthusiastic, young and talented that the adults feed off of it. It’s a neat working environment, the rehearsal process.”

The production features the traditional pantomime singing, dancing, double entendre, mistaken identity and a topsy-turvy makeover of the classic tale audiences know and love.

Following the basic structure of the classic fairy tale, Snow White finds herself hiding in the woods from the Evil Queen, finding solace with a rag-tag group of seven dwarves. This time, however, she has a few new faces to help her out. With the help of Nurse Tickle, Simple Simon and Prince Valiant, Snow White escapes the clutches of the Evil Queen.

“It is a musical with a live band so there’s lots of singing and dancing and carrying on and lots of chances to boo the villains and cheer on the good guys,” Handman said.

“This is a test for us, we’re selling very well so far, this could become an annual event for us,” Handman said. “We think it will make a nice mix for our audience, quite different from what we do on our MainStage.”

Get tickets, $45/$25, for Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs at www.rmts.bc.ca or in person at McPherson Playhouse.