White Rock's Scott Townsend and Erin Coon appear in Ellie King's Sword in the Stone.

REVIEW: Sword in the Stone is ‘good natured family fun’

Ellie King’s Sword In The Stone – lives up to just about everything a traditional British pantomime should be.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s Christmas show – Ellie King’s Sword In The Stone – lives up to just about everything a traditional British pantomime should be.

While not the singer-driven show Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s Beauty and the Beast was, nor the post-modern satire on pantos White Rock Players Club’s Mother Goose tries to be, Sword manages to be thoroughly good-natured, family-oriented fun.

In this take-off on the legend of young King Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere and Camelot, the gags are endearingly old and the always-amusing Alan Cedargreen is ludicrous but likeable as dithery Dame Widow Jones.

Everybody clearly understands the function of his or her role without any head-scratching over ‘motivation’; there are unforced sing-a-longs and a healthy helping of magic and spectacle guaranteed to enthrall the younger kids.

Indeed, at the Saturday night performance I saw, all the “oh-no-he-isn’t,” “look behind you” business worked better than I’ve seen in a long time (and I’ve been watching local pantos for some 30 years), as earnest youngsters got wrapped up in the interactivity.

The one or two gags of a double-entendre nature are skillfully steered well over the heads of tiny ones, while the imaginative storybook sets, drops, scenic painting, costumes, lighting and effects are enough to gladden the heart of even the most jaded adult.

While nine-year-old Holly TenHaaf, is utterly cute and demonstrates stage presence aplenty as Idris, the little Welsh dragon, another of the fabled beasts is also worthy of mention.

That’s the huge ‘Mor-dragon’ – an impressive puppetthat requires five people to operate. It’s not only a great stage effect, it’s also an  example of the enterprise, ingenuity and magic that community pantomimes can achieve.

But a big part of the heart of this show is the sense of family – real or extended – that pervades not only the audience, but those on stage. Consider the clan of Stephen Elchesen, who contributes his usual cheerfully goofy turn in the ‘Idle Jack’ role of Owen Money; his wife, Kerri Norris, turns in a well-timed comedic performance as bad girl Queen Morgana, while daughters Aeron, 5, and Cayleigh, 2½, steal everything that isn’t nailed down.

James King, son of playwright/director King and musical-director Geoff King, delivers his best Demon King performance yet with fine timing, hilarious Scottish burr, tartans and braided red beard.

As Arthur, principal boy Mandy Tulloch chimes in with  cheery amiability, fishnetted legs and the energy to put over the material.

As principal girl, Claurien Zanoria makes an appealing, sympathetic Guinevere. About the only thing missing from her nicely developed relationship with Arthur is the usual boy-girl ballad.

As cowardly villain Sir Mordred the Malignant, newcomer Tony De Mateis has the right broad, clownish touch; Bob Wilson is a confident Merlin, and Raminder Brar contributes upbeat presence as the Fairy Queen.

And we could stand to see a lot more of another new arrival, John More, as Grandpa Jones – the theoretically infirm ‘ancient’ is a mainstay of British comedy, and More’s variant would be a welcome addition to any panto.

Christopher Lewis Macleod offers a nice dopey characterization as G’Norman the Gnome, though his lines are not always clear; Scott Townsend, Jennifer Campbell, Alexa Pedersen and Glynis Knowlden brighten the stage with their contributions as villagers, and all members of the chorus make the most of their moments to –  quoting the title of another number – ‘Shine’.

 

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

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP make multiple arrests after fight in Newton

Huge police response to fight in the area of 82nd Avenue east of Scott Road

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

Panorama Ridge Secondary reports third COVID-19 exposure

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Surrey youth protest throne speech as part of Global Day of Action

Group marched to Liberal MP Randeep Sarai’s constituency office

White Rock writer in running for $6,000 accolade

Joseph Kakwinokanasum to learn Oct. 1 if his story, Ray Says, wins CBC Nonfiction Prize

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

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

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read