Ben Sams and Katie MacLean will play Prince Charming and Cinderella in the Gabriola Player’s pantomime production by Robin Bailes. (Bill Pope photo)

Ben Sams and Katie MacLean will play Prince Charming and Cinderella in the Gabriola Player’s pantomime production by Robin Bailes. (Bill Pope photo)

Gabriola Players theatre group to produce Cinderella pantomime play

Four-day production will run Dec. 1-4 at the Gabriola Island Community Hall

The Gabriola Players return after a two-year hiatus to produce the final Robin Bailes pantomime production.

As directed and adapted by Miranda Holmes, the players will stage Bailes’s Cinderella at the Gabriola Island Community Hall for four days in early December.

“His pantos have proven very popular on Gabriola since we did the first one in 2014. It has sort of become the island tradition – ‘oh, the holidays are starting, it’s time for the panto,’” said Holmes. “It’s a real family show … It’s a show that kids love. They love the costumes and the singing and the silliness … But a good panto script has a lot of things in it that the adults will get but the kids won’t.”

More than a dozen actors will bring to life the classic fairy tale, in the classic panto fashion chock-full of laughs.

The main cast consists of Ben Sams as Prince Charming, Katie MacLean as Cinderella, John Gooding and Neil Shilladay as the Ugly Stepsisters, and Helen Shilladay as the Evil Stepmother.

Holmes also said that although the leads, Sams and MacLean, have never acted in a full production before, they are both “absolute naturals.”

As with traditional pantos of the classic tale, the Ugly Stepsisters will be portrayed by men.

“Honestly, I couldn’t have dreamt of a better pair for those roles,” the director said of Gooding and Shilladay. “Together, they are just hilarious… Every rehearsal they just get funnier and funnier.”

As the fifth and final production of Bailes’s pantomime plays, Holmes said she kept returning to them for his entertaining and smart writing.

The first of his plays the theatre group had done in 2014, titled Will Shakespeare the Panto, had only been published a month prior to Holmes finding it online.

“And I just thought, ‘oh, well that sounds interesting,” she said. “I read it and I just loved it. There was a definite element of Monty Python to it … And it was just really funny but smart. That sold me on the guy as a writer.”

In subsequent years, the Gabriola Players have also staged Bailes’s Robin Hood and his Merry Men, The Return of Robin Hood and Ali Baba.

In a letter to Holmes, Bailes wrote that the island is the only place in the world to have done “a clean sweep” of all his pantomimes.

“For him, this all started seven years ago with the ‘world premiere’ of Will Shakespeare the Panto on an island he never heard of and had to look up on Google Maps,” said the director.

Cinderella will show at the Gabriola Island Community Hall, 2200 South Rd., at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1-3, with matinee performances at 2 p.m. on Dec. 3-4.

Audience members will be required to wear face masks when in attendance.

“I think this is going to be the best panto that we’ve ever done. The costumes are unbelievable. The sets are just beautiful. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many great singers… and we’ve got some great musical numbers.”

READ MORE: Silly tale salutes Sherwood


mandy.moraes@nanaimobulletin.com

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