As opening night nears for the Nanaimo Theatre Group production of Robin Hood and his Very Merry Men, director Nikita Towe said the mood can be summed up in one word – excitement.
Tickets are now sold out for all 14 performances of the theatre company’s annual Christmas pantomime, which runs from Thursday, Dec. 20 to Dec. 30 at the Bailey Studio.
“It excites everybody for sure,” Towe said of the high demand. “It is a good motivator … they’ve worked really hard and they’re really happy to put this out there.”
The play was written by local playwright Tony Manning and last staged by the Nanaimo Theatre Group nearly 20 years ago. Towe said Manning was involved with the show’s revival.
“When I approached him about using the script he was really open to it and he’s been a really great help with any sort of modernizations we wanted to make or updates,” Towe said. “Because the script was written, I think, in 1999.”
The cast and crew have been working on the show since late September and Towe said it’s been incredible to watch the production progress from start to finish
“This group is amazing. We have some really amazing cast members,” she said. “Some I’ve worked with, some I haven’t. Ian [Matthews], our Friar Tuck, directed me in my first panto 15 years ago so it’s nice to play that role and then Ian’s 10-year-old grandson is also in the show.”
Drawing from the 1973 Disney adaptation of the English legend, the characters all have animal aspects, for example Robin Hood is a fox, Maid Marian is a doe and the Sheriff of Nottingham is a wolf. Towe said it’s the cast that makes the play a good pantomime.
“You have this band of very different merry men with all of their qualities and all of their quirks and we have a really great group of actors in there and they’ve each brought something amazing,” she said.
Last week the Nanaimo Theatre Group staged a dress rehearsal before an enthusiastic test audience of members of the Ladysmith Little Theatre’s Christmas production Scrooge in Rouge. Those in attendance were quick to cheer for the heroes and boo the villains.
Pantomimes welcome audience participation and Towe hopes to see her incoming crowds engage with the story.
“I hope that in this busy, crazy Christmas season they take home an afternoon of delight and enjoyment,” Towe said. “I think that it’s important to be able to go somewhere and just forget about everything that’s going on and just enjoy something and laugh and have fun.”