By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Edmonton theatre knows that holiday traditions come in every size and shape, layer on layer, reimagined or reinvented. Have a gander at these:
PANTO AND POST-PANTO PANTO
At Fort Edmonton, starting tonight in the vintage Capitol Theatre, you can catch a holiday panto. The Legend of Sleeping Beauty, the Fort’s fourth incursion into the form of entertainment that arguably Britain’s most whimsical, oddball export.
Welcome to the riotous world of plundered, cross-hatched fairy tales, blithe cross-dressing, plucky heroes and a snarly but hapless villain, big sassy panto critters, improv, loud audience interaction (which is to say, cheering and booing and generally being rambnctious). Singing and dancing. And lots and lots of jokes, good, bad and shamelessly terrible — some designed for the kids, some that sail right over their heads to tickle the adult funny bone.
Jocelyn Ahlf, who’s also in the cast (as Carabosse, Queen of Thorns), has penned the larky extravaganza. Dana Andersen directs a cast that includes Davina Stewart as The Sugarplum Fairy (on loan from The Nutcracker?), Darrin Hagen as Fanny Bumfuzzle, Luc Tellier as Master Cat and Madelaine Knight as Sourpuss. Jameela NcNeil and Gab Gagnon are the Queen and King.
It runs through Dec. 31 at the Capitol Theatre, a fun excursion in itself. Tickets get snapped up fast, so have a look at fortedmontonpark.ca.
At the Roxy, you can catch a sort of panto wrapped in a panto and tied with a vaudevillian bow. Edmonton Actors Theatre is back at the Roxy for the third annual incarnation of Burning Bluebeard, macabre, funny, and touching, as clowns emerge from the ashes of a tragic theatre fire in the Chicago of 1903 to finish the panto and give us the happy ending they missed the first time around. More of this wonderful Dave Horak production later. Meanwhile, have a look at my Burning Bluebeard preview.
SCROOGE VS. SCROOGE:
The 18th annual edition of the Citadel’s grand production of A Christmas Carol continues (through Dec. 23) on the Maclab stage. Upstairs, Saturday night (10 p.m.) at Rapid Fire Theatre’s Zeidler Hall stronghold, the Citadel’s Scrooge, Glenn Nelson, is on loan for Scrooge and Friends, in which the old skinflint is visited by three improvising ghosts — and no one really knows what will happen. Tickets: rapidfiretheatre.com
THE CHRISTMAS LATE-NIGHT SPECIAL SPOOF:
At the Citadel Club Saturday night (8 p.m.), Up Late With Santa!, the man himself (Dana Andersen) presides over a free-wheeling entertainment with interviews, a house band (led by Mrs. Claus, aka Andrea House and containing Paul Morgan Donald), Jeff Page’s reading of The Lost Scrolls of Frosty, and three original Christmas dance numbers by Yednist, accompanied by Jason Kodie on accordian.
It will not surprise you to learn that improv is involved. But you might not be expecting the duelling accordion match undertaken by Kodie and Morgan Donald. Tickets: 780-425-1820.
THE CHRISTMAS ANTI-PAGEANT THAT TURNS OUT TO BE A CHRISTMAS PAGEANT:
The eighth annual edition of The Best Little Newfoundland Christmas Pageant … Ever! opens at the Varscona tonight!. Tickets for the Whizgiggling Production: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca).