Veteran White Rock panto director Susanne de Pencier makes no bones about her enthusiasm for her current group of seasonal merrymakers, who debut the brand-new Rumpelstiltskin this Friday at 8 p.m.
“This is probably one of the best casts I’ve ever had,” she said, adding she hopes the show will even outdo last year’s well-received Pinocchio.
Another from the pen of the same author, panto-expert Dave Baron, it seems to have all the elements of a winner, blending the traditional fairy tale with a broad spoof of ’60s-era James Bond movies (and plenty of local and topical references thrown in for good measure).
“The principal boy and girl (Kirstin Stewart and MacKenzie Claus) are both first timers in lead roles, but they’re both doing very well – and they can both sing!” de Pencier said.
“In the auditions Kirstin had me at her first line – ‘Bond, Jimmy Bond’ – she delivered it perfectly, the perfect principal boy.
“Mackenzie is also quite young but she’s really spectacular.”
A number of favourite performers from last year’s show are back, including the creative team of Jennifer Tiles and Elyse Raible as Rocky Raccoon and Jack Russell.
“They get to play a couple of animals again, who start as helpers for the bad guys that turn out to be not so bad,” de Pencier said.
Ray Van Ieperen is a natural to play evil master criminal Squire Goldringer, she added, and Bryce Mills returns as the Dame – this time as Jimmy Bond’s boss ‘M’.
De Pencier said Mills is well on the way to becoming a “quintessential” White Rock Dame, following in the illustrious footsteps of Franklin Johnson, Marc Bourrel and Scott Wheeler.
“He studied theatre in England, worked in professional theatre over there on the tech side, and he’s just got it – he understands it.”
Also notable in a show is Hunter Golden (Fools) as the evil Rumpelstiltskin, de Pencier said.
“He’s incredible – a fabulous Rumpelstiltskin,” she said, adding it’s the one role that hews to a traditional fairy-tale characterization.
Otherwise the ’60s are back with a vengeance in Rumpelstilitskin – which also gives a larger than average role to pantomime giraffe Shenanigans.
The design by Andrea Olund and Heather Maximea’s costumes create a “Peter Max/Mary Quant” environment, de Pencier said, complementing a score of handpicked period classics played by musical director Shelley Eckstein.
The show runs until Dec. 28 at Coast Capital Playhouse; tickets are available through the box office (604-536-7535) or visit www.whiterockplayers.ca