People's Light & Theatre to Present CINDERELLA: A MUSICAL PANO, 11/20-1/12/2014
People's Light & Theatre presents Cinderella: A Musical Panto, written by Kathryn Petersen with music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn. It runs November 20, 2013-January 12, 2014 on the Leonard C. Haas Stage. Associate Artistic Director Pete Pryor directs. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets call 610.644.3500 or visit PeoplesLight.org. Cinderella: A Musical Panto is sponsored by ING.
This year, People's Light and Theatre Company celebrates the production of its 10th Holiday Panto with Cinderella: A Musical Panto by Kathryn Petersen with music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn. Following the panto tradition of taking well-known folk tales and other favorite children's stories and turning them on their ears, Cinderella is set in the not-so-distant land of Malvernistan in the roaring 1920s. Cinderella's animal pals are gangster-types of the era that help her with her chores, but are also detective-types that help solve the crime of what really happened to Cinderella's mother. Those infamous evil stepsisters are want-to-be flappers that greet folks with a "Hey-ho, daddy-o." Prince Aidan of Sargasso dreams of leaving his princely duties for vaudeville and he and his valet, Barnaby, exhibit vaudevillian repartee in their hilarious exchanges. Petersen explains that "I'm still telling the tale of Cinderella [but] I'm going to tell it [in] a way an audience has never heard it before and I'm going to twist it and have fun with it. But there's still the essence of the story."
As People's Light enters its tenth anniversary of Holiday Pantos, it offers a time to remember its past and celebrate those who have come together to make it such a joyful, raucous, and unfailingly entertaining event for the holidays. Since the first panto was produced at People's Light in 2004, a core group of artists have honed the development and performance style of this distinctive form to truly make it their own. Pete Pryor, director of the past five Pantos at People's Light, observes, "Everyone that's been in the Panto rehearsal room has developed a kind of performance vocabulary that's unique to this process. It's all about invention, giving and taking, flexibility, and expert levels of coordination." Veteran Panto actors Mark Lazar, Kim Carson, Jeffrey Coon, Joilet Harris, Susan McKey, Christopher Patrick Mullen, and Tom Teti will welcome Panto newcomers Alex Bechtel, Liz Filios, Leah Poyo, Jillian Shea Spaeder, and Josh Totora into the process of creating this music and dance infused, uproarious, and fully engaging experience.
The artists on stage certainly pitch in to the fun, but it's the multigenerational audiences that flock to the Pantos that are integral to making this interactive performance form fully resound. Petersen affirms, "over the years, I have learned one important thing - that the audience members are full participants in the event. The story doesn't exist up on stage, but it is created with and among the audience. [...] I love standing in the aisle or in the wing looking down a row of audience and seeing a whole family from kids to grandparents, with all of them rapt and laughing. Real credit goes to the whole team for making that happen year after year, but there's something about the form that, if we do our job right, it respects everybody in the room."
The panto is a tradition borrowed from England, where almost every town has one during the holiday season. Pantos are a mix between a fractured fairy tale and a variety show, using familiar stories to form the basis for exaggeration, outrageous jokes, and rollicking songs and dances. At People's Light, they incorporate traditional elements, including "the dame" (a man dressed as a woman), audience participation (in the form of cheering the heroes and booing the villains), a "messy bit," candy passed out to the audience, and a "silly song" that inspires an audience sing-along.
Cinderella: A Musical Panto previews on Wednesday, November 20th, Thursday, November 21st and Friday, November 22nd at 7:00 pm. The play opens on Saturday, November 23rd at 7pm and runs through January 12th. Audiences are encouraged to join the artists after select Thursday evening performances for a conversation about the production.