The holiday season may seem a long ways off but a local acting company is already making plans.
Central Alberta Theatre will mark the final month of Red Deer’s Centennial year by staging its first ever pantomime production at the Memorial Centre Dec. 13-21.
Cinderella Dances with the Stars promises to be create an uproar with its audiences, CAT officials say.
Brought up to date and set in Red Deer this musical comedy variety show will appeal to children of all ages from five to 95. Produced in the style of a traditional English Pantomime, complete with Dame, Panto horse, chase, black light ballet and audience participation, Cinderella is a modern day version of the classic love story crammed with songs, dances and hilarious references to Red Deer’s landmarks, people, businesses and popular culture.
“It’s a significant undertaking to bring a show like this to the stage for the first time” said Lawrence Hobbs, executive producer. “Pre-production planning began last fall with detailed project planning going on since Christmas at the same time as the script was being written.
“We’re hoping to have the cast, production partners and production team in place before everyone goes on holiday in the summer. Rehearsals will get underway right after Labour Day”
CAT expect Cinderella will need a substantial volunteer crew to support its cast of 18 plus dancing partygoers.
Pantomimes, or ‘Pantos’ as they’re called in England, can be traced back to the middle ages as they incorporate traditions of the Italian ‘Commedia Dell’Arte, the Italian night scenes, British music halls and American Vaudeville to produce an adaptable festive institution loved by children of all ages.
Retired Red Deer school teacher Albert Azzara is one of the principal creative forces behind CAT’s production.
A veteran of 11 Lethbridge productions and Cinderella’s writer/director, he explained Panto’s Christmas tradition and its role reversals with boys sometimes being played by girls and the Dame always by a man.
“Audience participation is a key element a pantomime,” said Azzara. “The audience are encouraged to boo the villain when he’s up to no good, argue with the Dame and warn the principal boy (often a girl) when something bad is going on behind them. We’re going to have some great fun this year as the villain tries to prevent a series of dancing princesses as they try to win the hand of the prince in Royal Red Deer’s own ‘Dances with the Stars competition’.”
Meanwhile, Hobbs said that CAT’s work begins in earnest now.
“We have to establish partnerships with local dance troupes and corporate supporters and will be holding cast auditions and production team calls in the next few weeks.
“My colleagues think the biggest challenge will be to find Red Deer’s own version of Will and Kate. We need a particularly talented singing and dancing young actress to play Cinderella while even Prince Channing of Tatum must be able to carry a tune.”
CAT would like to invite all Central Albertans interested in participating in the Cinderella production to a production call meeting at 7 p.m. on June 25th at the Memorial Centre including folks interested in production, stage management, technical, lights and sound, set construction, costumes, props, makeup, hair, front of house, publicity, concession and more.
Questions can be directed to the producer Carole Forhan by email at email@example.com.
The required crew roles are listed on CAT’s web site at www.centralalbertatheatre.ca. Auditions for the various roles will also be held at 7 p.m. on June 26-27 at the Memorial Centre in Red Deer as well. Prepared monologues will not be required. The director will ask participants to read roles of his choice and time permitting actors will be allowed to read roles they are particularly interested in.