(Posted 6:30 a.m., Dec. 17)
End Theatre's original panto production stays true to
By Fred Sherwin
elves Salt and Pepper, played by Janette Smith
and Lili Miller, confront the Abominable Snowman,
played by Peter Frayne, in the East End Theatre
production of The Christmas Adventure.
the past 17 years, the East End Theatre company has built
up a reputation of producing traditional Old English pantomimes
with such familiar titles as Aladdin, Jack and
the Beanstalk, and Dick Whittington and His Cat.
year, the group's artiistic director, Nick ST. Francois,
decided to try something different. Instead of performing
one of a dozen or more tried and true pantos, he would
write and direct his own vesion of the classic theatre
result is A Christmas Adventure, on stage this
weekend at the Shenkman Arts Centre.
play tells the story of the miserable Snow Queen who wants
to stop Christmas and plunge the world into a deep freeze.
To do so she places a spell on Santa Claus, causing him
to lose weight, and kidnaps his daughter Evelyne and all
the elves wth the help of her minion "Slush",
played by EET panto veteran David McNorgan.
job of rescuing Evelyne and the elves, and breaking the
spell on Santa, is left up to Troy "the handsome
elf", Magenta the Snow Fairy, and a pair of well-meaning,
but inept security elves named Salt and Pepper.
is the dame of the play, a role that is unique to pantos
and is traditionaly played in drag. In The Christmas
Adventure, the role is carried out with great gusto
by Kevin Rockle. The other main characters are played
by Kim Reynolds, Brent Landry, Angel Morden and Tara Fitzsimmons,
whose solo performances in the second half of the play
are among the many highlights of what is a very entertaining
for my money the real stars of the play are EET panto
veterans Jeanette Smith and Lili Miller as Salt and Pepper.
The chemistry between the two women is unquestionable,
and the energy level Smith brings to the stage is off
the charts. This is most evident in the second act during
the scene in which they when over the Abominable Snowman,
who is played by fellow EET veteran Peter Frayne.
scene is by far my favourite of the play, based entirely
on the interaction between the three characters and Smith's
performance in particular.
won't give away the ending of the play, but suffice it
to say that our heros eventually free Evelyne and the
elves and break the spell on Santa just in the St. Nick
of time to save Christmas.
The Christmas Adventure is ST Francois' first effort
as a playwrite it's a job well done. The production stays
true to the genre and beyond that it's wonderful family
entertainment. The kids will immediately get caught up
in the storyline and will relish applauding the heros
and booing the villains with equal aplomb, while the adults
in the audience will appreciate the double entrendes and
occasional references to contemporary news events.
your Christmas spirit is waning, or has yet to kick in,
The Christmas Adventure can provide you with the
perfect kick start. If it doesn't, then you may be beyond
all hope, in which case I would watch Merry Christmas
Charlie Brown, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Riendeer
and Frosty the Snowman in quick succession. And
if that doesn't do the trick you can always download Elf
as a last resort.
before doing all that, you still have two more chances
to drop by the Shenkman Arts Centre to take in The
Christmas Adventure with performances at 1:30 p.m.
and 7:30 p.m. today. (Tomorrow's Sunday matinée
performance is already sold out.) Admission
to the play is $17.50 for adults and $12.50 for childen.
A special family pack is also available for $54 and includes
two adults and two children.
Abominable Snowman chases off the Snow Queen's
dastardly minion Slush, played by David McNorgan
in the East End Theatre production of The
Christmas Adventure. Fred Sherwin/Photo
evil Snow Queen's comes face to face with
Santa in the East End Theatre production of
The Christmas Adventure. Fred Sherwin/Photo
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