Laura Buechler

Laura Buechler

Looking glass world becomes panto tale

NANAIMO – Alice in Pantoland offers audience members traditional Christmas pantomime fun.

Laura Buechler embraced her inner dark side to play The Queen of Hearts.

She watched movies with evil characters and had fun embracing her wickedness. The actress even practised making angry faces.

Her journey to discovering what makes evil characters tick began as part of her preparation for playing the role of The Queen of Hearts in Nanaimo Theatre Group’s presentation of Alice in Pantoland.

For Jamie Jepson, who plays Alice, she had to embrace the opposite persona.

“The kids have to love you,” she said about the direction she got from co-director Ian Matthews.

During the production audience members will be introduced to traditional Wonderland characters such as the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and Tweeledum and Tweedledee. However, people won’t be watching the traditional story of Alice in Wonderland. The Wonderland inhabitants will enter a world with traditional pantomime characters, such as the good fairy and the dame.

The looking glass world has been altered by the literary talents of co-writers Sheila Coultish, Peggy Harris and Matthews.

The writers have incorporated references to Nanaimo culture and issues into the story, which is traditional in pantomime storytelling. This tale begins with the Queen of Hearts and her son the Knave casting a spell over Pantoland and Alice and her friends fighting to break it.

Matthews, who co-director with his daughter Shannon Reimer, said “whether you are nine or 90” people will enjoy the humour of the pantomime.

He said people sometimes get confused about just what a pantomime is. Some people attend the show expecting to see people miming, but that’s not the case.

Pantomimes are theatrical performances that incorporate dancing, singing, slapstick, cross-dressing and more.

Alice in Pantoland premieres Friday (Dec. 21) at 7:30 p.m. and runs on select nights until Dec. 31. Some performances have already sold out.

Tickets are $15/$25 for the New Year’s Eve performance and are available by calling 250-758-7224 or