Great holiday panto fun in Camelot with EXCALI-PURR: The Once & Future Cat

Red Sandcastle Theatre’s (RST) Panto Players take us on a wacky fun medieval adventure of knights, wizards, destiny—and, of course, an unusual, feisty pink cat—with their multimedia production EXCALI-PURR: The Once & Future Cat. Co-written by Jane A. Shields and Rosemary Doyle, and directed/choreographed by Jackie English, this is RST’s eighth holiday pantomime.

Young Wart (a plucky, precocious turn from Rosie Callaghan) leaves his home with adopted father Sir ‘Ector (a delightfully silly Taran Beaty) and jealous, whiny brother Kay (Farid Yazdani, with a comical sly, pernicious edge—and who does a darn good Elvis) to seek his destiny with the help of a guitar playing wizard who ages backwards (Beaty, who finally gets to play a good guy this time, as the cheeky, enigmatic Merlin) and the effervescent Twanky of the Lake (played with sassy gusto by Andrew McGillivray, who also acts as our host with the 411 on traditional panto audience responses).

Meanwhile, the evil sorceress Morgan Le Fey (played with delightful, exacting and nasty glee—plus mad trash talking skills—by Linette Doherty) plots to rule the world with a new pink, four-legged associate. Can it be that our favourite pink cat (Jackie English, with lovable sauce and guile) has gone over to the dark side? With the contest for the sword in the stone (aka Excalibur) coming, Le Fey invites Kay into her nefarious plan to secure Excalibur and the throne of England. Throw in the Pokémon-seeking knight Sir Pelinore (a treat of a goofy performance from Matthew Donovan), who challenges Kay in the joust, and we have some riotous panto adventure for kids of all ages. Will Wart find his destiny? Will good prevail?

Of course! With twists and turns, and plenty of goofy good times, laughs and music along the way (including live music performed by the multi-talented cast), EXCALI-PURR combines projected images; revamped pop tunes (from iconic rock, to hip hop and R&B, to show tunes); nods to magic/adventure movies (Harry Potter, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Back to the Future and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); and audience participation to great effect. All played out on a set that wraps the audience in the story—and held together by multi-tasking stage manager Deborah Ann Frankel (also the General Manager at RST since owner/AD Rosemary Doyle started a new gig as AD/Producer at Theatre Kingston back in August).

EXCALI-PURR: The Once & Future Cat continues at Red Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen St. East, at Queen/Logan) until January 6, with evening performances at 7pm on Dec 28-30 and Jan 2-5, and matinées at 3pm on Dec 29-31 and Jan 5-6. Tickets ($25 adult, $15 child and family fun pack $60) are available online, by calling the box office at 416-845-9411 or at the door (cash only).

And that, my friends, is officially my final review of 2018. I’ll be back in January for more amazing Toronto theatre. Happy holidays and all good things for 2019!

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The Shoe’s fits of laughter @ Red Sandcastle Theatre

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 redsandcastletheatre@gmail.com

Hope the holiday season has been good to all y’all – and Happy New Year!

The Shoemaker & the Pant-O-Mimes coming up @ Red Sandcastle Theatre

Before I head off for the holiday, wanted to give a shout out to Red Sandcastle Theatre’s upcoming panto extravaganza The Shoemaker and the Pant-O-Mimes. Here’s the official word from the folks at Red Sandcastle:

COME ENJOY a brand new PANTOMIME in the friendly, informal RED SANDCASTLE THEATRE with a crazy cast of characters :

Come laugh at the domineering Dame Twanky (played by the hilarious Richard Waugh)! And join him, the hapless shoemaker (“real brit” Brenda Somers) and his daughter Cinderella (triple threat Amber-kelly Mackereth) in search of elves and comfortable footwear… Meet a pair of Hip-hop dancing Mimes (the stellar Francis Bueron and Annie Chen), boo the Evil Designer Kenneth Coal (tall and bearded Taran Beaty) and his model sidekick! (gorgeous Allison McCaughey) With a special guest appearance by the nefarious Pink Cheshire Panther from last year and …….. a very disgruntled ELF!

PRICES (1/3 the price of the “other panto”) : $25. reg. $10 child $15 Students, seniors, artists … FAMILY DEAL PACK IS ONLY $50 FOR 2 adults & 2 kids ($5 for an extra child)

Info at http://www.redsandcastletheatre.com

TIX by calling BOX OFFICE at 416.845.9411! or emailing redsandcastletheatre@gmail.com

 

>>>> DEC 26 TO JAN 6 ONLY <<<<

EVENING 7: 00 PM SHOWS!

December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 at 7:00pm

January 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 at 7:00pm

MATINEES 2 PM SHOWS!

Wednesday December 26 at 2:00pm

Saturday December 29 at 2:00pm

Sunday December 30 at 2:00pm

Saturday January 5 at 2:00pm

Sunday January 6 at 2:00pm

 

I’ll be heading over to take in the fun and games at the December 30 matinée, which just happens to be the same day I’ll be heading out for the Tin Star Orphans’ F*ck New Years 3 gig at The Rivoli.

Till then – whatever you happen to be celebrating, even if it’s a celebration of some time off work – Happy Holidays!