The Alice in Blunderland Panto Players Co-op is back this holiday season with more family-friendly panto fun at Red Sandcastle Theatre with their production of The Shoemaker and the Pant-O-Mimes!
Co-written by Jane A. Shields and Red Sandcastle Theatre A.D. Rosemary Doyle (who also makes an appearance or two onstage after taking care of the box office), and directed by Jackie English (who reprises her Alice in Blunderland turn as Cheshire Cat) – and featuring two mimes this time around – Shoemaker is an extravaganza of singing, dancing and fun packed into a 90-minute show.
The audience is treated to the sight of a simple but extremely effective set as they enter the theatre to sit around a t-shaped catwalk. What amounts to dozens of pairs of shoes hang, individually, from the ceiling, and a single chair sits up centre with a luxurious red curtain back-drop – and a bubble machine is deployed from its spot up in the ceiling during key moments in the festivities.
Not only have our Shoemaker (Brenda Somers), his wife Twanky (Richard Waugh) and their daughter Cinderella (Amber-Kelly Mackereth) fallen on hard times, they’re also stuck in a bad contract with evil fashion designer Kenneth Coal (Taran Beaty) and his mean girl model sidekick/assistant Ivana Lot (Allison McCaughey) – and the family is forced to create thousands of pairs of shoes for no pay and risks losing Cinderella to marriage with Coal. With a little faith, magic and hard work – and the assistance of an incredible feline (English’s Cheshire Cat) and two mimes (Annie Chen & Francis Bueron), the gang sings and dances their way to saving the day – with some hilarious visits by a lost Wicked Witch of the West and a disgruntled Christmas Elf (Doyle).
Somers is delightfully sweet as the gentle, put-upon Shoemaker and Waugh is wonderfully engaging – not to mention fetching in that fairytale frock – as his take-charge wife Twanky, and Mackereth’s Cinderella (no, not that Cinderella) is hilariously confused and conflicted about practically everything – especially about whether she wants to marry Coal. Beaty is deliciously evil as the arrogant, power-hungry Coal, and McCaughey is seductively nasty as his conniving assistant. English’s Cheshire Cat (by way of the Pink Panther) is wonderfully sly and brilliant, and Chen and Bueron’s mimes are endearing and adorable – not to mention slammin’ hip. Doyle’s hysterical appearances as the Witch and Elf, along with the pop soundtrack references to shoes in the pre-show music and current star hits rewritten for the show, all add to the fun. My fave music/dance moment was Twanky’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” – the song breaking out into a full dance party at the end of Act I. The audience is encouraged to cheer for the hero Shoemaker and boo the villain Coal – and several of the younger audience members helped out onstage as models for the big fashion show scene.
This is some big singin’ and dancin’ holiday panto fun for the whole family.
The Shoemaker and the Pant-O-Mimes! runs until January 6 – with 7 p.m. shows January 2 through January 6 and matinées at 2 p.m. on January 5 and 6. Tickets (1/3 the price of the “other panto”) are: $25. reg. $10 child $15 Students, seniors, artists … FAMILY DEAL PACK IS ONLY $50 FOR 2 adults & 2 kids ($5 for an extra child). For reservations, call the box office at 416.845.9411 or email email@example.com
Hope the holiday season has been good to all y’all – and Happy New Year!