Eleven years ago, a shy young high school student stepped onto the stage for her first panto performance.
The show was Alice in Wonderland, and Crystal Weltzin – who was taking part in the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s youth mentorship program – was in the lead role.
Fast forward to 2021, and Weltzin is back with the company. This time, she’s written the show – and she’s playing the villainous Queen of Hearts to boot. Kerri Norris, who played the Queen of Hearts back in 2010, returns as director.
This year’s edition of Alice in Wonderland features the cast of colourful characters you’d expect in a panto, with performances from company favourites and youth mentorship participants. The all-ages show will feature Alice, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, a prince and princess, and more favourites from Lewis Carroll’s classic books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
It’s onstage at the Surrey Arts Centre Dec. 16 through 26, then takes to the stage in New Westminster for Jan. 1 and 2 shows at the Massey Theatre.
“Original script and music, as always, come together to bring you this magical, sparkling, toe-tapping family show. Come ‘boo’ the bad guys and cheer for your heroes,” the company invites in a press release.
Families are warned that pantomime performances can sometimes be loud for young children, and a couple of scenes are intended to thrill audience members.
“But the fun, silly jokes and laughter ensure that we all finish happily ever after,” the release says.
Both runs feature special relaxed performances for those with intellectual or other disabilities, or who can otherwise benefit from a less intense theatrical experience (including those with babies or toddlers). During relaxed performances, sound and lighting cues are adjusted to be less intense, and auditorium lights are never fully turned off. Audience members are allowed to exit and enter at any time, and audience noise, movement and the use of phones or fidget devices is permitted.
Tickets for the shows are $34.99 regular, $29.99 for seniors (aged 60+) or children 12 and under, or $115 for a family pack of four.