Pen High Arts Media Entertainment is tackling an exciting form of musical stage comedy with a pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk.
“This isn’t a Marcel Marceau, man in the box in a striped shirt theatre,” said artistic director Megan Rutherford.
In fact, it is the furthest thing from it. A pantomime is a musical comedy designed for families with songs, slapstick comedy, dancing and a list of criteria that must be followed. The rules also include it must be a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale. PHAME’s production has colourful costumes, whimsical sets and humour that will tickle the funny bone of all-ages.
“It is this wild mix of characters and it is definitely multiple layers of parallel running humour from slapstick to adult humour. We will have quite a bit of eye-candy for the little kids with characters like Little Red Riding Hood, The Big Bad Wolf and Goldilocks making appearances,” said Rutherford.
Another major part of a pantomime is audience participation. Rutherford said the audience will be asked to clap, boo, cheer and hiss at key moments.
“We will have the characters completely breaking the fourth wall and step out to address individuals in the audience or collectively as a group. They might insult them, compliment them and all of this is part of the criteria,” she said.
As a educational theatre troupe, Rutherford thought this was a great opportunity for the 55 students involved to expand their horizons on the stage.
It will be the first time PHAME has attempted this form of theatre. Rutherford said they did some edits to the dialogue to ensure it is appropriate for everyone.
Austan Paquette, a Grade 12 student who is playing the role of Jack, said the show is fast paced and one of the most comedic productions he has been part of.
“There is a lot of funny parts and roles. Everyone has at least one chance to make the audience laugh and we have some singing and dancing going on as well,” said Paquette.
Playing the Fairy Godmother role is Grade 12 student Grayce Overhill. She is excited to see audience reactions.
“It’s fun to feed off that energy from the audience, especially in this play because they will be more involved with what is happening on stage.
As part of the pantomime criteria Jack’s mother, Dame Trott, will be played by a male and a costumed animal will be played by two actors. Overhill’s Fairy Godmother doesn’t have a lot of back-and-forth dialogue.
“She is very out there and crazy and none of the other characters really knows about her throughout the play then she shows up to help Jack out with the beanstalk by selling him the bean,” said Overhill. “The Fairy Godmother is very spontaneous and jumps at the chance to be in the spotlight. I love performing comedies and I am very outgoing so it fits with me.”
PHAME Productions presents Jack and the Beanstalk at the Cleland Theatre at the Penticton Community Centre. Showtimes are on Nov. 27 to 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. with a matinee show on Nov. 27 at 1:15 p.m.
There will also be weekend matinees on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. Evening performances run from Nov. 28 to Nov. 30 with curtains rising at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 each at Pen High Secondary School.
The Cleland Theatre has limited wheelchair seating, so it is advised to get your tickets early and make a reservation to ensure it is available.