Pun & games for kids of all ages, with hilarious panto good times, in RaPUNzel

 

Amelia Welcher as RaPUNzel (top) and Kristen Foote as Bunny (bottom)—photo by Burke Campbell

 

Red Sandcastle Theatre’s Panto Players are back at it again with more pantomime shenanigans in RaPUNzel, written by Jane A. Shields and Rosemary Doyle, and directed by Jackie English. RaPUNzel marks the company’s 7th annual holiday panto.

This time, the Panto Players take us to Italy in this delightful mashup of beloved fairy tales, pop music and musical theatre tunes as they deliver familiar stories and characters with some goofy—at times surprising—twists. A very pregnant Twankey’s (Chris Gibbs) cravings coax her husband (Farid Yazdani) to pilfer neighbouring ogre Monsanto’s (Taran Beaty) garden for lettuce. His mission becomes compromised and he’s caught in the act, forcing the expecting couple to make a terrible choice. Their thievery comes at a price: they must hand their baby over to the ogre!

Sixteen years later, and having held out on her end of the deal and lost her husband, the Widow Twankey gives in and the ogre gets her daughter RaPUNzel (Amelia Welcher), and locks her in an impenetrable, magically protected tower. Luckily, RaPUNzel’s nimble-footed bff hare friend Bunny (Kristen Foote) is able to get in and out of the tower, and provide our heroine with some company as they try to figure out how to get her out of there. Meanwhile, RaPUNzel’s hair is getting super long—and we wonder if the ogre is as naughty as he wants everyone to believe; after all, his faithful sidekick is a Chicken (Sebastian Marziali). And is Twankey as nice as she appears?

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Chris Gibbs as Widow Twankey, with Co-writer/AD Rosemary Doyle in the background—photo by Burke Campbell

Enter the handsome, though somewhat dim, Prince (Yazdani). Will he be able to free RaPUNzel from her tower prison? To add to the fun, director English returns as our favourite sassy pink cat, who first arrives on sabbatical, but comes on board to assist as only this cat can. And co-writer Doyle appears as the set-changing, noise-shushing Nonna,* a sweet old granny who suffers no fools.

It’s all very wacky and pun-filled—and we’re all invited to join in the fun. Gibbs gives a diabolically silly turn as the vain and manipulative Twankey; and Yazdani does an awesome Don Corleone impression as her husband, as well as a comedic, scene-stealing turn as the dim-witted yet determined Prince. Beaty is hilariously conflicted as the ogre Monsanto; holding RaPUNzel captive for “reasons,” the ogre’s love and care of his garden makes you wonder how bad to the bone he really is—and he brings some kick-ass guitar and vocals to that George Thorogood classic in the process.

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Taran Beaty as the ogre Monsanto, with Sebastian Marziali as Chicken (left), Chris Gibbs as Twankey (background) & Amelia Welcher as RaPUNzel (right)—photo by Burke Campbell

 

Welcher is adorably precocious as the feisty punster RaPUNzel; and impresses with great vocal chops on a Pink power ballad. Foote and Marziali give hilarious turns in multiple roles, starting with a pair of mobsters and a couple of dancing lettuce. Foote is hysterical and educational as RaPUNzel’s bff hare pal Bunny, schooling us on the differences between the hare and the rabbit. And Marziali brings cute and wacky fun as Monsanto’s right-hand man Chicken, providing comic observations and cheeky advice.

We’re invited—and encouraged—to cheer the heroes and boo the villain, and sing and groove along with the pop tunes, rap and musical theatre songs. And a few lucky young audience members will have a chance to get in on the action.

With big shouts to stage manager Deborah Ann Frankel, who’s been with this wild and wacky ride from the beginning; running all the lighting and sound cues, and shepherding the cast.

Pun and games for kids of all ages, with hilarious panto good times, in RaPUNzel.

RaPUNzel continues at Red Sandcastle until January 7, with evening performances at 7pm on December 29 and 30, and January 2-6; and matinees at 3pm on December 28 and 30, and January 3, 6 and 7. Get your advance tickets online (see the date-specific ticket links on the show page) or by calling 416-845-9411.

*As of December 28, Nonna will be played by Panto Players veteran Brenda Somers.

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Pirates! Genies! Fishing! Wacky meta panto fun with A Ladd’n His Cat!

Red Sandcastle Theatre’s Panto Players have cooked up their most meta holiday panto ever! Written by Jane A. Shields and Red Sandcastle A.D. Rosemary Doyle, A Ladd’n His Cat! opened to an enthusiastic audience at Red Sandcastle’s storefront space at Queen St. East and Logan, Toronto last night.

Played out as a story within a story within a story, there’s a Thousand and One Nights quality to this year’s panto (the company’s 6th), with storytellers spinning tales for their lives.

It all starts on the high seas, where a pirate named Russell (Doyle, who also did the set and costumes) has taken a Lad (Ada Balon) and his Cat (Jackie English) under his wing among his band of pirates. When the Pirate King (Kristopher Bowman) becomes displeased with the Cat, the wily critter strikes a bargain to enthrall him with a story—where he must be the hero.

In the Cat’s tale, we find a hard-working, fastidious Fisherman (Brenda Somers), his wife (Susan Finlayson) and daughter Gesundheit (Jennifer Lloyd) toiling away on the water, where the Fisherman casts precisely three times a day. Catching a rusty old bottle on the third cast, Gesundheit unlocks a Genie (Kristen Foote). Extremely irate after years of captivity and thirsty for vengeance, the Genie threatens the family with death—but the quick-thinking Gesundheit makes a deal to entertain and divert her with a story in exchange for her family’s life.

And Gesundheit’s story brings us to the classic tale of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp—with a twist, of course, as this is the Panto Players, after all.

Aladdin’s mother the Widow Twankey (Adam Bonney) is beside herself with worry. She works her fingers to the bone at the family’s laundry business, but her teenaged son Aladdin (Bowman) is a lazy brat. Forced out of the house to find a job, Aladdin catches a glimpse of the fair Princess (Foote) as she takes a stroll through the market with her mother the Queen (Somers) and the court Magician (Bernie Henry), who has an upcoming marriage in the works with Handsome Prince (Balon).

Looking for big money and an easy job, Aladdin accompanies the Magician to a cave, where he finds precious jewels (Lloyd, Balon and Foote), a bat (Finlayson) and a magic lamp. Re-enter the Cat, this time as the Genie of the Lamp.

Plot upon plot upon plot later (with plots uncovered along the way), we finish where we started. And it all works out in its own implausibly plausible way.

Incorporating popular songs—from Gilbert and Sullivan to Beyoncé—and including some fabulous choreography, stunning costumes and magical set pieces, plus audience participation, A Ladd’n His Cat! is a whole lotta panto fun for kids of all ages.

Great work from the entire cast, with nearly all playing two or more roles throughout. Stand-outs include English, as everyone’s favourite pink Cat; surly and cheeky, but always lending a hand, this Cat is one smart cookie. Bowman gives great comic turns as the proud, narcissistic Pirate King (and look out for him at the Shaw Festival this coming season); and the petulant, lazy-ass Aladdin, who winds up being a hero in spite of himself.

Bonney is a riot as Widow Twankey, Aladdin’s put-upon, stressed out mother; and as a tattooed, sensitive pirate. Foote is hilarious as the fetching and enraged Genie of the Bottle; and as the self-absorbed, selfie-taking Princess. Henry is delightfully sly and manipulative as the Magician; and Balon deftly runs the gamut from the lovable, innocent Lad to the stand-offish oaf Handsome Prince.

With big shouts to stage manager Deborah Ann Frankel, keeping it all going from the booth; and Panto Players alumna Margaret Lamarre, who assisted Doyle with sewing the costumes—even on her birthday!

Pirates! Genies! Fishing! Plus our favourite pink Cat. Wacky meta panto fun with A Ladd’n His Cat!

A Ladd’n His Cat! continues at Red Sandcastle until Dec 31; reserve your spot in advance by emailing redsandcastletheatre@gmail.com or by calling 416-845-9411.

Photo: (top) Adam Bonney, Ada Balon, Jennifer Lloyd, Kristopher Bowman & Kristen Foote; (middle) Susan Finlayson & Brenda Somers; (bottom) Bernie Henry, Jackie English, Deborah Ann Frankel & Rosemary Doyle. Photo by Burke Campbell.

Fabulous time as Panto Players milk the big panto fun in Jacques & the Bean Stock Market

Jacques-and-the-Bean-StockMarket2.3-longRed Sandcastle Theatre’s Panto Players opened their 5th annual holiday panto last week with a three-day pre-holiday run of Jacques and the Bean Stock Market, returning to the stage on Dec 26.

Written by Jane A. Shields and Rosemary Doyle, and directed by Jackie English, The Panto Players take us on a wild and wacky ride, with twists and turns, corny fun comedy bits, young audience participation, and music and dance breaks featuring re-worked pop favourites.

A retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, with a local modern-day twist, Jacques (Michael Postumus) is saddened when his mother Widow Twankey (Robert Keller) decides to sell the beloved family cow Buttons (Victor Pokinko), who’s producing some strange, undrinkable milk. Meanwhile, evil broker Ronald Bump (Taran Beaty), his business partner Harpy Golden (Matthew Donovan) and lawyer the Cheshire Cat (English) scheme to get Twankey to sell them her cottage property so they can build their next condo project. Add to that mix some Irish river dancing/Mexican jumping beans (Kristen Foote and Doyle, the two multi-tasking actors in this production) and you have hilarious good times, with a fun twist or two.

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Top (l to r): Michael Postumus, Robert Keller, Matthew Donovan, Victor Pokinko & Taran Beaty  Bottom (l to r): Rosemary Doyle, Jackie English & Kristen Foote – in Jacques & the Bean Stock Market – photo by Burke Campbell

Jacques and the Bean Stock Market features a delightful, hard-working cast – with several familiar faces from pantos past. Perennial favourites Beaty and English are back, with Beaty putting the “I” in “Evil” as the notorious bad guy Ronald Bump, the consummate money-grubbing, grasping corporate bad guy; and English returning as everyone’s favourite pink cat, but the wily, cocky feline has gone over to the dark side this year as Bump’s scheming and scamming lawyer. But darn it, you still can’t help but adore that candy floss-coated Cheshire Cat. Must be that cock-eyed smirk. And there are multi-character performances from Doyle, who starts off as a winsome pony, standing outside the door of the theatre, inviting folks to see the show, and served as a marvelous last-minute back-up as a Roadie and a Bean. Pokinko and Donovan (who were part of the Sleepy Beauty cast last year) return to the Panto Players this year. Pokinko is hilariously deadpan as the wry-witted and world-weary, but inevitably lovable cow Buttons; and Donovan is adorkable as Bump’s bow tie-wearing, put-upon business partner Harpy Golden; not content as Bump’s sidekick, he dreams of forming a boy band.

Joining this year’s rowdy good times are a few new faces. Postumus does a hysterical job with Jacques, a not too bright, but big-hearted lad with boy band hair and a German accent. Keller’s Widow Twankey is a sharp-witted, cunning dame with a fierce fashion sense and some fine Joan Collins-esque moments. And Foote (multi-tasking along with Doyle) is a treat, especially as one of the multicultural beans, an airy-fairy interpretive dancer who needs no excuse – or official venue – to perform her expressive art.

Shouts to the entire cast for juggling text, improv, audience participation, songs and choreography, as well as showcasing some fine musician chops in performances by Beaty (guitar), English (drums) and Donovan (trombone). Stand-outs: the “Definition” dance break/corny joke bits and Buttons’ rap.

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Rosemary Doyle as the winsome pony, working box office – photo by Burke Campbell

And big shouts to super busy Red Sandcastle A.D. Doyle for the always enjoyable and imaginative costumes and set (in addition to the million other jobs she does at the theatre), and the company’s intrepid stage manager Deborah Anne Frankel for keeping the rowdy fun all together.

It’s a fabulous time at Red Sandcastle Theatre as The Panto Players milk the big panto fun for kids of all ages in Jacques and the Bean Stock Market.

Jacques and the Bean Stock Market are on break for the holiday – and back up and running Dec 26 – Jan 2; check the show page for show times (or check out the dates/times in the poster image above). For advance tix, call: 416-845-9411 – otherwise, best get there early, as it’s an intimate space and a popular show. Cash only at the box office.

Side note for the grown-ups: (This comes from an exchange I witnessed between parents at yesterday’s matinee; I debated on mentioning it, but thought that there was something we could learn here.) Be prepared for LOLs and excited, noisy children – it’s a panto, so the audience is encouraged to cheer the hero and boo the villain. Some kids may get especially excited and boisterous – and if you feel a child is being over-exuberant in his/her participation, please try to be understanding. If you must speak to another parent about their child’s behaviour, please do so respectfully (without ganging up on them and out of earshot of the child), exercise compassion and tolerance, and try to avoid making assumptions. Everyone is there to have fun, so let’s be kind to each other.

Big shiny panto fun with Panto Players’ Sleepy Beauty @ Red Sandcastle Theatre

Sleepy-Beauty-Star-CorrectedSheets and coloured fabric, plus some artfully custom cut tape and green felt, become castle walls and turrets, and an enchanted forest. All part of the magic and imagination at Red Sandcastle Theatre – in this case, for the Panto Players’ production of Sleepy Beauty – The Tale of the Narcoleptic Princess and Her Cat.

Written by Jane A. Shields and Red Sandcastle A.D./impressaria Rosemary Doyle, and directed by Jackie English, this modern-day retelling of the beloved fairy tale features a sparkling, multi-talented ensemble cast and a head boppin’, toe tappin’ series of pop tunes tailored for the show.

Three fairies (Matthew Donovan, Victor Pokinko and Brenda Somers) attending a christening for Princess Suzie come up with a plan to thwart the evil machinations of bad fairy Malefolent (Taran Beaty), softening the curse set upon the infant, tasking a remarkable pink cat (English) with looking after her, then finding a prince (Andy Ingram) to break the sleeping spell that bewitches a teenage Suzie (Rebecca Perry).

The fairies are a treat: Donovan is all heart and southern gentility, with a touch of befuddlement and insecurity, as Twankey Fairy; Pokinko is fabulously dapper and entertaining as woodland Fairy of the Trees Algonquin (but you can call him Al); and Somers is a ball of blue fun as the sharp-witted, colourful-haired Fairy of the Lake. Perry is adorably precocious as Princess Suzie (also doing double duty as the hilariously doting Queen) and has an impressive set of pipes; and Ingram is wonderfully goofy as the handsome, but dim-witted, Prince Joe (and gives a comic turn as the King). Beaty is chock full of evil comedic deliciousness as the jealous and vengeful horned fairy Malefolent. And English is a delight as everyone’s favourite wry-witted pink cat with a French accent.

All the shenanigans kept running by Doyle (wearing many hats, including box office, lighting FX and palace guard) and SM Deborah Ann Frankel, Sleeping Beauty features colourful, striking costuming (designed by Doyle, who also did the set) and catchy, fun tunes borrowed from pop – lyrics rewritten for the show – like “Wake Up, Little Suzie,” “Can’t Touch This,” and “Celebration,” and from artists like Katy Perry and ZZ Top. And the entire cast transforms into a band, rockin’ out on “Call Me Al” – with Beaty on guitar, Donovan on trombone and Pokinko on keys.

Sleepy Beauty is a big shiny panto good time for kids of all ages.

Sleepy Beauty continues its run at Red Sandcastle Theatre until Jan 4, including 2 p.m. matinees (Dec 28 and 31, Jan 3 and 4) and 7 p.m. shows (Dec 29 and 30, Jan 2 and 3).

Interview with actor/writer & Red Sandcastle Theatre impressaria Rosemary Doyle

Pretty Red Dress less definedEarlier this month, I had the big wacky fun pleasure of attending Red Sandcastle Theatre’s annual holiday musical panto #DICKWHITFORMAYOR and his …Cat (you can read that blog post here), and it dawned on me that theatre owner/A.D. Rosemary Doyle would be an excellent interview subject for the blog.

Actor/playwright/theatre impressaria Rosemary Doyle runs Red Sandcastle Theatre, a storefront theatre space located at 922 Queen St. East in the Leslieville neighbourhood of Toronto (near Queen/Logan, right next to the Ed’s Real Scoop). Red Sandcastle Theatre is very much a part of the neighbourhood mosaic, where local businesses support each other and the atmosphere has a cozy community feel to it. The theatre’s tag line reads “Anything is Possible” and is described as “so off-Broadway, we’re in Leslieville.” I interviewed Rosemary Doyle over email, about her life in theatre – both as a performer and as a producer – and Red Sandcastle Theatre.

LWMC: It’s been nearly three years since you started Red Sandcastle Theatre, but you started off your life in theatre – quite young – as an actor. Tell us a bit about those early years acting, particularly in theatre.

RD: Yes, I was quite young. It’s hard to pick a starting point really. When I was really little I would sing or dance ballet on the long sofa coffee table my parents had. They were terrified I would take a plunge though the picture window. I did all the school plays, starting in kindergarten, I remember I was Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web in grade school, and got fan mail and love letters from girls in other schools, it was very confusing. When I was eight, I was a finalist in a Talent Show at the Grande Theatre, I sang “Memory” from Cats and “Danny Boy,” and Brian Jackson, a notable conductor, played the piano for me. I still think they were weird choices of love and loss for a little girl. At 12, though, I played Annie in Annie at the Kingston Grand Theatre, to over 800 people a night, and that was it – I was hooked. Any thoughts of being a dermatologist or a cartographer went away. From then until now, I’ve done at least five shows a year. The Red Sandcastle’s been averaging about 42 a year or more. Not all mine, of course, but I am quite hands-on in adding value to any shows that come to the Red Sandcastle and I’m proud of them all. I’ve been really thrilled with the talent and exuberance that the Toronto theatre community is displaying these days.

LWMC: What made you decide to open a theatre space? And how did you come to find the storefront space (a former pottery store that also held classes) at Queen/Logan?

RD: I’ve wanted to have a space forever. In fact, with the magic of Facebook my old high school drama teacher, Gord Love, congratulated me on finally having “My Theatre.” I was reminiscing with my dear friend Allan Day, to years ago, sitting down at the Chinese Laundry Cafe in Kingston and making plans for what we were going to call “The Tiny Theatre” and that was in the 80s. But what made me take the plunge in May 2011, I was newly single, for the first time in 18 years, and I was frustrated that at the time there were no spaces in which theatre artists could do their work and not lose their shirts. I had been doing shows at the Bread and Circus. Jackie English, one of the owners, was a friend of mine, but it had closed, and it seemed to me the waiting lists and money involved for even the extra spaces of the theatres around town were, to a small company, a lot of money. I wanted to open a space that could support theatre artists to play. I have always thought of a theatre as the theatre artist’s canvas, and sure, we can make art without a canvas, but it’s easier with one. I wanted to be able to support that, for other people and myself. I wanted a space where you could talk to me and hear, “Yes,” rather than “No.” So my motto has been “Anything is Possible” and I have tried to stick to that. I guess it was a good idea, as many other spaces have opened since then, so much so that in under three years the Red Sandcastle is thought of as established! So funny!

The space at Queen and Logan was serendipitous. I have lived in Leslieville since the early 90s and plenty of spaces had come up that I had wanted to turn into theatres, but life happens. You get married, have children, you’re busy, but you keep thinking about this idea. Various opportunities come up and your spouse thinks they are a waste of energy and money and too risky, and you agree because you don’t really have any capital to do them properly. But then time passes, you save your money for a dream that may or may not happen, and then life keeps happening and suddenly one day you’re single again. You’re thinking about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, or at least the next year, so you’re sitting in another cafe, this time called Sophie’s, pouring your feelings into a coffee and a journal and you look out the window and a for rent sign comes up across the street. You tell Sophie to hold on a second, you’ll pay for the coffee when you come back. Paul, your neighbour, says he’ll cover it for you, and you go and you see the space. A lovely woman named Helen, whose been running her creative project in there for 16 years and is retiring now, shows you around and you think… it CAN work. What’s the difference this time? Well, apart from the proximity to parking and the good sight lines, you’ve been single for two months and the only benefit you can see of being single at this time is there’s no second opinion telling you it can’t work. Finally, you can spend your savings the way you want to, there’s no one to say no. I truly believe that every overnight sensation is years in the making. The trick is to bank cash when you aren’t doing exactly what you want so you can pounce on opportunities when they arrive.

LWMC: And how did you come up with the name Red Sandcastle Theatre?

RD: R.E.D. (Rosemary Ethel Doyle) are my initials, and Sandcastle is to represent the ethereal and fleeting nature of theatre, like a sandcastle, you build it and then it’s gone, but that’s no reason not to build it. A friend suggested the second bit while we were drinking Veuve Clicquot in the window of the space on the first day I took over the lease, and was thinking “WHAT DO I DO NOW??” I had just given the landlord all my money, an entire year’s rent up front, and he had given me three keys, like the three beans Jack got for his mother’s cow. It’s funny, I found out about two years into running the place that Helen, the previous occupant’s middle name was Ethel, so 922 Queen Street East has been curated by artistic woman named Ethel for going on 20 years now.

LWMC: It’s amazing that you were able to find a space in your own neighbourhood, not far from home. What’s it been like, navigating being a single mom and running a theatre, on top of your acting and writing work?

RD: I’m not going to lie, I’m very busy. But I wouldn’t have jumped into this life if the theatre wasn’t around the corner from my home and my boys. I was at a crossroads, as a single mom should I be giving up this profession to get something more steady for my boys? But what else could I do? And wouldn’t that have taken me away from them more? As my own boss, I can be there for them when they need me. Every morning, I get up early and carpool my son and three other kids to school, I’m still doing my little job at Dundas School for the nutrition committee, and I’m here when they come home for dinner the same as before. If I’m at the theatre, I’m just five minutes away if they need me. They are 16 and 11 now, and my ex and I have been great about being there for the kids as our top priority. I think it’s good that I am busy, I can only imagine what I would have been like doing nothing or working at a job I hate! The theatre has given me lots of opportunities to write, and the ability to put the plays on. With my “PLAY IN A WEEK” Camp for summer break and March break, I write a play based on what the troupe of kids want on the Monday and we put the play on on the Friday. Often my boys are in the camp too. It’s been great fun; I’ve written about 23 shows in the past two years, I even write them for birthday parties. Last August long weekend, I launched the “1,000 Monkeys Playwriting Festival,” which was an idea I wanted to do, thought up that first day with the Veuve. We had 17 playwrights create new works in 24 hours while they stayed overnight at the theatre. My friend Kate teased me once “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.” This busy-ness has only added to my creativity, and my boys are pleased that I am happy and not bugging them all the time right at the age they don’t want to be bugged.

LWMC: You’re featured in Red Sandcastle Theatre’s upcoming production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane (directed by Wes Berger, running Jan 23 – Feb 1). Tell us a bit about the play and how you came to produce it at Red Sandcastle.

RD: What a fierce Irish play this is! Martin McDonagh spares no punches. Lynne Griffin and her husband Sean Sullivan and I were sitting in yet another cafe, this time Mercury – are you detecting a trend here? And we were saying that we would love to do something together. Lynne suggested Beauty Queen of Leenane; she said she could play the mother and I the daughter. Perfect, I thought, as Lynne is a sparkly eyed, red-head, just like my mom. Sean would play the love interest. I knew an Irish actor, Paul Kelly, who would be perfect as Sean’s brother. Then when I mentioned the play to Wes Berger, he replied that he loved it, and I said he’s in luck as we didn’t have a director yet! It’s a strange and beautiful fit to have such caring, lovely, people working on a show where people are so purposely cruel. Maybe it resonates with the Irish in me (my parents live south of Dublin), as I find it good and interesting going to these dark places (I guess that explains an 8-year-old’s “Danny Boy”) and Lynne’s so amazing. Every moment of her is delicious! Sean and Paul are a delight, and Wes is like a reverse therapist, mining all my gunk for truth… he assures me it will be cathartic, I think maybe he just wants a really good show. 😉

LWMC: What else have you got coming up at the theatre?

RD: That’s a dangerous question! So let’s stick to January, February… in the middle of Beauty Queen of Leenane’s run from Jan 23 – Feb 1, we have the monthly Jill’s Living Room, an open mic singing night which happens the last Monday, we also have on Jan 21 FANCY PANTS and Slacks and Co., an improv/open comedy night which is run by Kelly Fanson. It happens twice a month or so. GENESIS .. and other Stories opens the first week of Feb, on the 10th of Feb the Illustrated Men are doing a show. Jody Terrio is doing a children’s show on the Family Day Weekend, Jackie English is doing Jane Shield’s one woman show SORBET AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and then we are back to Jill’s Living Room on the 24th, and then Michael Ripley premieres his new play Letters to Saint Rita, which will run Feb 25 to March 2. Also, there are classes, Tracey Erin Smith’s Soulo Class which runs starts Feb 2 and Beth Laing’s weekly acting classes, and Allan C. Peterson’s Weekend Method Acting Class, which runs Jan 25th and 26th, as well as rehearsals for various companies. It’s great to keep the place hopping!

LWMC: Any other projects coming up for you?

RD: After Beauty Queen, I will be directing Sorbet and the Single Girl; this is a remount of a production we did at the Bread and Circus, and that was a remount of a show I did, where I played the part and toured the play to TISH in NYC and we are in the planning stages of an all-woman cast of Julius Caesar. I’m not sure who they want me for, but perusing the email, we seem to be getting together some of the ladies I did a Fringe Richard the Third with. I hope I get to sword fight again. But I am open to projects anywhere.

LWMC: Anything else you’d like to share with folks?

RD: If anyone is interested in the “PLAY IN A WEEK” Camp, or the 1,000 Monkeys Playwriting Festival, or just wants to do something, call me. I’m always up for a coffee: 416-845-9411, Oh and ‘like’ the Red Sandcastle Theatre on Facebook, or follow me @RosemaryEDoyle on Twitter, and then you’ll know what’s up, probably around the same time as I do. Thank you so much Cathy, Cate.

LWMC: I answer to both. 🙂 Thanks, Rosemary!

Rosemary Doyle was also featured as the Mom in the Jeremy LaLonde short dark comedy film Out, which screened during TIFF 2013. Check out the trailer:

You can see Doyle performing live in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, running Jan 23 – Feb 1 at Red Sandcastle Theatre (922 Queen St. East, north side, just east of Logan). I’ll be there this Thursday for opening night – stay tuned for the scoop on this show.

#DICKWHITFORMAYOR and his… Cat brings holiday panto fun @ Red Sandcastle Theatre

DICKWITFORMAYOR-POS-ON-LINE-1.21Red Sandcastle Theatre continues its annual tradition of holiday fun for all ages with its musical pantomime #DICKWHITFORMAYOR and his… Cat.

Co-written by Jane Shields and Rosemary Doyle (who is also Red Sandcastle’s owner and A.D.), all the classic panto characters are here – with a twist and a decidedly local flavour, including some timely jabs at municipal politics. Inspired by Dick Whittington and His Cat, this version is set in two Toronto neighbourhoods at opposite ends of Queen Street, Parkdale and Leslieville (the latter the location of the theatre), and references local Leslieville shops. Drawing from music theatre and current pop music, the cast belts out tunes from the likes of Annie and Katy Perry – to great fun effect.

The energetic, multi-talented cast takes us on a big wacky fun ride as our young hero Dick Whit (played with adorable, wide-eyed optimism by Allison McCaughey) is inspired by the world-wise Vagrant (fierce style and cockney sass from Brenda Somers) to travel from Parkdale to Leslieville to find his fortune. In Leslieville, Dick encounters Jamie Olisfer the Nasty Chef (played with delicious arrogance and a soupcon of evil charm by Taran Beaty) and his employer the Widow Twankie (Phil Luzi, gloriously larger than life in a series of stunning bright pink wigs) – and Dick’s luck begins to change for the better. That is, until he’s kept up all night by the awesome moves and super-energized go-getter ‘tude of tap dancing brother and sister act King Rat (Andrew Prashad, who brings a lovely sense of verve and naiveté) and Queen Rat (Sarah Murphy-Dyson, who rounds out her performance with an adorably sweet insecurity). Coming to Dick’s rescue is the Cat, an audience favourite at all of Red Sandcastle’s pantos (played by Jackie English with unflappable nerve, cocky charm and cat-like agility), who provides a unique solution to the rat problem. And, of course, the nasty Chef has a disgustingly evil plot and our stalwart hero Dick manages to thwart it with the help of his friends.

With shouts to SM Deborah Ann Frankel, who’s stage managed every panto at Red Sandcastle Theatre, for running sound and lights, and keeping it all together.

You have two more chances to join in the fun at #DICKWHITFORMAYOR and his… Cat – today (Sat, Jan 4) at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. All happening at Leslieville storefront theatre Red Sandcastle Theatre – 922 Queen St. East (north side, just east of Logan, next to Ed’s Real Scoop).

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!