Emily Lewis, 12, smiles as she waits for her call during rehearsal for ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ the annual Christmas pantomime from the Peninsula Players. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ make for Peninsula Christmas pantomime

Production runs Dec. 21 until Dec. 28 at Mary Winspear Centre

Allan Haynes isn’t sure exactly when pantomimes became synonymous with the Christmas season, but the director of the latest stage production from the Peninsula Players says a good panto can still pack the seats with a theatre-going crowd.

This year, Haynes and his cast of 20 actors of all ages present Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves at the Mary Winspear Centre from Dec. 21 until Dec. 28.

“I don’t think you’re ever too old for pantomimes,” Haynes says, perched in one of the 300 or so seats in the Charlie White Theatre during a recent rehearsal. “It’s hardly Shakespeare,” he says, chuckling, “but they’re fun.”

The panto is one of the few productions the Players put on throughout the year with parts for younger actors – an aspect Haynes relishes as he has watched a handful of stars emerge.

Often loosely based on a fairy tale and full of quirky songs and choreographed dance, Haynes surmises it is both the familiarity and the casual feel of the show that keeps the audience returning year after year.

RELATED: ‘A Christmas Carol’ haunts Craigdarroch Castle

“It’s all part of the fun,” he says. “They know to expect corny jokes – things that the adults will find a bit silly but the kids will roll with laughter.”

That said, Haynes points out it can be a bit of a misnomer that a pantomime is just for kids because a good one should have jokes for all ages.

“Humour is the single most important aspect of a pantomime,” says Haynes, who rewrote some of the script to include local references, also an aspect of a classic panto.

RELATED: Peninsula Players update Sleeping Beauty this Christmas

Working behind the scenes as a producer and on stage in a supporting role, Tia Niedjalski says this year’s production is a family affair.

It was her two daughters – 10-year-old Kate and 14-year-old Maia – who encouraged Tia to audition for the annual Christmas panto a few years ago. The trio are now one of three families with generations of actors playing a host of roles in Ali Baba.

“It’s become a Christmas tradition for us to do the panto,” she says. “And, it’s a tradition for other people to come and watch it.”

And though local middle and secondary schools on the Peninsula have robust theatre programs, Tia says participating in a community theatre group helps younger actors gain confidence in a more professional-style setting.

“Some people don’t really understand a pantomime,” Tia says,”but it’s the interactiveness and silliness of it – it’s good family entertainment.”

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves runs Dec. 21, 22 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 23, 26 and 27 at 2 p.m. For tickets visit Tickets.MaryWinspear.ca.


@kristyn_anthony
kristyn.anthony@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Annual dinner serves hundreds of community members

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

Saanich church kicks off holidays with peaceful Winter Solstice service

St. Luke’s song-filled Christmas services come later

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read