Sandra Adamack photo Plucky Aladdin (Adrian Shaffer) must outwit the villainous Abenazar the Great (Jake Hildebrand) in the 65th anniversary White Rock Players Club pantomime Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (running to Dec 29 at White Rock Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd.)

Sandra Adamack photo Plucky Aladdin (Adrian Shaffer) must outwit the villainous Abenazar the Great (Jake Hildebrand) in the 65th anniversary White Rock Players Club pantomime Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (running to Dec 29 at White Rock Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd.)

Panto magic returns to White Rock stage with Aladdin

New Players Club Christmas show grants director Dann Wilhelm’s wishes

Dann Wilhelm is taking it easy this Christmas season – by his standards, anyway.

Some would say that directing Aladdin and the Magic Lamp – 65th anniversary edition of White Rock Players Club’s legendary pantomime (running through December at White Rock Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd.) – would be, in itself, enough of a responsibility.

But this time last year, Wilhelm was pushing the limits by not only directing – but also serving as author, actor and musical director – for the runaway hit Robin Hood and the Skytrain of Doom.

With Aladdin, it seems all his wishes are coming true.

He has a cast packed with popular and reliable local talents (a number of them making a welcome return from Robin Hood); a “fun” script by Chase Thomson, which he is co-producing with Charles ‘The Fez’ Buettner; Sierra Milne, returning to do choreography; and a full-time musical director, Marquis Byrd – although Wilhelm admits he “helped a bit, in that department,” including choosing a score that pays tribute to the hits of Elton John, and Freddie Mercury and Queen.

“We had two really popular biopic movies this year that kind of cinched that!” he added.

And, yes, he – and others – have added to the script, in typical White Rock panto fashion, to include more localized and timely zingers.

“It started out kind of generic, but we threw in some local references and updated some pop-culture references and added some local, provincial and federal government jokes,” Wilhelm confessed.

“But at least I didn’t cast myself,” he noted (panto fans will recall his commanding performance last year as the villainous, yet somehow likable, Sheriff of Nottingham.)

“That was kind of my last choice last year – it was really helpful I had so many great people come out to audition for this show. That’s one less thing I had to worry about.”

The show opens officially tonight (Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.) at White Rock Playhouse after two preview performances, and runs through the month to a last matinee on Dec. 29.

It promises to be a colourful version of the time-honoured panto classic, thanks in no small measure to bright and glitzy costumes put together by Amara Anderson and sets designed by Damon Bradley Jang and Buettner – albeit with a little more realism, Wilhelm said, than the cartoonish “Sgt. Pepper-style trees” that suited Robin Hood’s Beatles-oriented approach.

“Damon is a local actor, director and choreographer who also has a background in marketing and set design – which has worked out really well for Aladdin,” Wilhelm said.

“The sets have a really cool and very different idea for a panto that I’ve never seen before, a lot of multi-use pieces that spin around and become something else – things are moving constantly,” he added.

Also constantly on the move in this show is versatile player Adrian Shaffer stepping into the lead role of poor-but-happy Aladdin who lives with his mother Widow Twankey (veteran panto comic Ray Van Ieperen in full-on Dame-mode) and brother Wishy Washy (former FVGSS player Paige Thomsen) at the family’s laundromat.

“Adrian has this natural charm about her,” Wilhelm noted. “It was kind of a no-brainer to cast her when she auditioned – she was nailing it from her first readings.”

Sadly, Aladdin becomes a pawn in the schemes of the wily Abenazar the Great (Jake Hildebrand, relishing the opportunity to play a villain), who is plotting to take over the world with the help of a magic ring and a magic lamp.

But the young man’s fortunes change when he meets the lovely, strong-willed Princess Jasmine (Sara Morales), who has been resisting the attempts of her father, the Emperor (Reginald Pillay) to arrange a marriage for her.

“Sara’s new to the group, but super-adorable,” Wilhelm said. “Reg is a riot. The Emperor starts off being very misogynistic, tending to talk to down to Jasmine, but as Reg plays him, he goes from silly to sillier.”

Also contributing to the fun are Christopher Hall as a very flamboyant Genie of the Lamp, Janelle Carss as a conflicted Genie of the Ring (forced to help Abenazar but wanting to help Aladdin) and Dianna Gola-Harvey as Jasmine’s helpful handmaiden, Handy.

“We have a small ensemble cast this year – which means that everybody has their moment to shine,” Wilhelm said.

Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m Wednesday through Saturday, with 2:30 p.m. matinees Dec. 8, 15, 22 and 29 (closing show).

Tickets ($24; $15 students and seniors) are available from whiterockplayers.ca or call 604-536-7535.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wickson Pier in Crescent Beach is closed to the public, as work to replace and repair piles continues. (Susan Richards de Wit photo)
PHOTOS: Repairs to Crescent Beach pier complete

$180,000 Wickson Pier project included pile replacement, says City of Surrey parks manager

Steve ‘Elvis’ Elliott performs for residents of Amica White Rock. Exercise-to-music programs that led to a threat of city fines due to a noise complaint are to resume next week. (Contributed file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Amica White Rock

Peace Portal Seniors Village outbreak declared over

B.C.’s parliament buildings in Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
Surrey gets two cabinet ministers, a parliamentary secretary and government whip

Premier John Horgan’s NDP MLAs were sworn in on Tuesday and the cabinet was revealed Thursday afternoon

The Festival of Lights; Jingle Bell White Rock; and the Lighted Boat Parade all helped light up the White Rock waterfront on Saturday, Dec. 7. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Festival of Lights postponed

While event founder remains optimistic, the future of this year’s display is uncertain

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Brenda Locke trying to breathe life into Surrey’s defunct Public Safety Committee

Surrey councillor’s motion will be up for debate at a future council meeting

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Most Read