Swashbuckling pirates and a dastardly villain join the ladies of the Smuggler’s Cove Women’s Institute on stage in Theatre Now’s latest seasonal offering. This traditional British pantomime is a madcap adventure based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale Treasure Island.
“This year we have a cast and crew of about 35 people who are working very hard to be ready for our opening night of Friday, January 18,” said director Tina Thompson.
The play features a cast made up of local performers from age nine to 69.
“We are very proud to be inclusive so pretty much anyone who wants to be part of our group either on stage or off is welcome,” added Thompson.
Dating back to the middle ages, pantomime or panto are stage plays that often include songs, gags, gender-crossing actors and plenty of audience involvement. Not to be confused with mime, today there is always speaking in a pantomime.
The style takes some of the traditions of Italian commedia dell’arte, but has evolved over the years. Now it includes dancing, singing and jokes aimed at both children and adults.
“The story line is generally based on a fairy tale or nursery rhyme and audience participation is greatly encouraged,” said Thompson.
Familiar faces in this production include Ted Durnin as the dame, Mike Bamford as Long John Silver, Tricia Andrews stars as both members of a comedic duo, Nicole Narbonne as the aging parrot, Radhika Samwald as the president of the Women’s Institute and Al Dickon on piano.
Theatre Now was founded in 1994 and its members have performed many different types of skits and plays over the years, but the English-style pantomime remains an audience favourite, according to Thompson.
Written by UK-based pantomime script writer Ben Crocker, this version of Treasure Island is one of his most ambitious and largest cast productions.
Admission to performances of Treasure Island are by donation, making it accessible to all viewers. According to Theatre Now representatives, a grant from Powell River Council for Arts and Culture made this possible.
Performances will be held at Evergreen Theatre in Powell River Recreation Complex on January 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27. Showtimes are 7 pm for the Friday and Saturday show with matinees at 1:30 pm on the Sundays.