What’s Christmas without a pantomime?

In the six years Dave Hitchcock has directed the St. Luke’s Players’ annual pantomime, he’s always started the show the same way.

In the six years Dave Hitchcock has directed the St. Luke’s Players’ annual pantomime, he’s always started the show the same way.

“I ask the audience members to put up their hand if they’ve ever seen a pantomime,” he said.

It used to be only a few would raise their hand, but the British-syle of musical comedy has gained quite the following. This year St. Luke’s Players will present its Alice In Wonderland pantomime for 12 nights in a 130 seat church, and tickets have been sold out for weeks.

“There’s not many people raising their hand to say it’s their first panto anymore,”  Hitchcock said. “For anyone new, I just tell them to do like the people sitting around them.”

The audience is expected to cheer for the heros and boo the bad guys. There’s also a part where kids can get on the stage and sing.

“It’s a family show. There’s humour that will appeal to all ages,” Hitchcock said.

A favourite character in every pantomime is the dame – a man playing the role of a female. For the past five years, Mike Chadwick has been the dame for the St. Luke’s Players.

“Nobody else seems to audition for the role,” Chadwick said.

Perhaps it’s because of the British stereotype that the dame is played by an old washed up actor that can’t get any other job. (Chadwick is quick to point out that he does get cast in other roles in productions throughout the year: “I haven’t hit the bottom yet,” he said.)

For Alice in Wonderland, the dame is Alice’s mother, who in this version of the story follows Alice to Wonderland to help defeat the evil queen – that is, when she’s not flirting with the men in the audience.

“It’s great fun,” Chadwick said of his role. “You get to be outrageous and make everyone laugh, and if you forget your lines it doesn’t matter.”

Chadwick, raised in Britian where pantomimes are a Christmas staple, still remembers his first panto role. He was four-years-old and the bit involved several “strong” men trying to lift what appeared to be a heavy weight and after nobody could move it, young Chadwick picked it up and carried it off the stage.

“My father was always in the show, and he forced me to be in it too because there were never enough men,” he said. “I got into acting for fear of the consequence if I tried to avoid it … I guess I just stuck with it.”

A similar pragmatism led Hitchcock to the director’s seat. Also raised in Britain, he watched pantos every year until he moved to Victoria and couldn’t find one. So he stated putting them on himself, with the help of his wife Helena as co-director.

They spent a few years directing pantos for the Masque theatre company and continued the tradition with the St. Luke’s Players.

“I can’t imagine Christmas without a pantomime,” he said.

 

Just Posted

Canadians gobbled up 3.3 million whole turkeys for Christmas 2017

47 per cent of all whole turkeys sold that year, according to the Turkey Farmers of Canada.

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

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

Saanich walks the walk on crosswalk after student lobbied for improvements

Elanor Teel approached first Saanich about the intersection in March 2017

Saanich home renovation company is building the change that is coming

MAC Renovations Ltd. used move to Saanich to test and showcase new building techniques

Firefighters across the region swing into the giving season

Local firefighter says it’s about whole community

Victoria axe thrower targets world championships

Former pitcher to compete at World Axe Throwing League Championships in Chicago

POLL: Are you giving to charities over the holiday season?

In the holiday rush, amidst the hustle and bustle to find that… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 4, 2018

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

Battle over Saanich’s Haro Woods not yet over, says report

Draft management plan calls on Saanich to spend $142,500 to improve area

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

Most Read