I grew up with the tradition of seeing a ‘panto’ at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh as part of the lead up to Christmas. This tradition was enforced by the fact that one of my mom’s co-workers was a panto alum. Interactive theatre is the best kind for family fun. Therefore it was a great pleasure to spend this Sunday afternoon at the newly refurbished York Theatre to check out their take on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk with a distinctive ‘East Van’ take on the story.
The kids are not newbs to pantos. My mom took them to one at the Metro a few years ago which they claimed to enjoy. But I do think this troupe nailed it with the East Van vibe as my daughter Caity could not stop laughing at the references and re-imagined versions of her favourite pop songs. The down home familiarity of it and the VERY small cast made the idea of shouting out to the cast very easy and fun to do for all the kids.
The cast are an enthusiastic and talented bunch who were clearly having a ball. My kids were blown away by Musical Director Veda Hille without even knowing who she is! Allan Zinyk was a hoot as Jack’s mom AND the Giant. Tara was quick to point out that Jacks mom was a guy and that Jack (Maiko Bae Yamamoto) was a girl…all great panto traditions that seem to make perfect sense to four year olds. Dawn Petten was a hoot as the poor cow and the helpless harp, though Tara had me cover her ears for her heartfelt ‘Greensleeves.’
The set design is gorgeous. The paintings of ‘condos in the sky’ with stunning views of our northshore mountains and Jack’s Vancouver Special were amazing.
The show runs through to the 29th. It is well worth the trip down to the bottom of Commercial Drive.