British pantomimes are a holiday tradition at Globus Theatre in Bobcaygeon and this year is no exception, with the theatre company presenting Puss in Boots for eight public performances from December 8 to 17.
Inspired by the classic fairy tale, Puss in Boots tells the story of Dame Tallulah Tart’s youngest son Harry, who has inherited a cat with a very special skill — it can talk. Harry and Puss embark on an adventure in a world featuring madcap characters, dastardly villains, and a princess Harry is determined to marry.
The Globus Theatre production is a traditional British pantomime (panto), a form of theatrical entertainment for families that involves music, topical jokes, slapstick comedy, and the “Dame” — a traditional role that is often a male actor in drag. Usually inspired by fairy tales or nursery stories, pantos are produced around Christmas and audience members are encouraged to participate in the fun.
Globus Theatre’s 16th annual panto was written by Globus Theatre co-founder and artistic director Sarah Quick, a native of Britain, who says pantos are a phenomenon in England during the holidays.
“At Christmas time every child goes and sees a panto, without exception,” Quick told kawarthaNOW in 2017. “You have 2,000-seat theatres packed every day for six weeks with kids and families. They get top stars to star in them.”
While most North American theatre companies producing pantos create both a “nice” version of the show for children and a “naughty” version for adults, traditional British pantos instead cleverly incorporate adult-oriented humour in a way that goes over the head of the children in the audience. Children enjoy the action, songs, and audience participation, with adults loving the local references and innuendos.
Globus Theatre’s annual panto is also an opportunity for community actors, both young and young at heart, to mix with professional actors on the stage. This year, more than 40 local youth are participating, with many of the cast enthusiastic participants from Globus’ School of Dramatic Arts. Along with Quick herself, the professional cast includes Globus Theatre co-founder and artistic producer James Barrett and Rhys Bernier, a graduate from Toronto’s Randolph College of Performing Arts.
“I am so excited to have so many children participating in this year’s panto — so many in fact that we have three separate casts so that all of them have great parts that allow them to shine,” Quick says. “There are lots of new faces that have grown up enjoying the panto as audience members and have now chosen to hit the stage, alongside kids that are now performing in their seventh panto. And of course, James is taking the role of the Dame for his 16th time — he truly is a sight to behold.”
Prior to the public performances, Globus Theatre is also presenting six sold-out school shows including in Bobcaygeon, Dunsford, Ridgewood, and Fenelon Falls.
“It’s a time of great joy here at Globus Theatre and we can’t wait to entertain the schools that are coming and the families that make it part of their holiday season every year,” Quick says.
Puss in Boots runs at the Lakeview Arts Barn (2300 Pigeon Lake Rd., Bobcaygeon) for eight public performances from December 8 to 17, with 8 p.m. evening performances on Fridays and Saturdays (December 8 and 9 and 15 and 16) and 2 p.m. matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays (December 9 and 10 and 16 and 17). An optional three-course Christmas dinner is available before the evening performances (doors open for dinner at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m.).
Tickets are $35 for adults and $22.50 for children 12 and under for the show only, or $45 for adults and $20 for children 10 and under for the show and dinner. You can order tickets online at globustheatre.com or by calling the box office at 705-738-2037 (toll free at 1-800-304-7897).