Christmas panto production adds humor to Hope’s housing struggles

Performance this weekend on Legion stage promises humor, audience involvement and Christmas cheer

In true panto fashion, the Hope Performing Arts Community Theatre (Hope PACT) is taking on some of our community’s biggest issues with a healthy dose of humor.

Cheryl Lacey is reviving the first Christmas pantomime she wrote when she first started Hope PACT ten years ago: Mother Goose and the Enchanted Forest. The interactive play will have audiences booing at evil land developer Baron Peep and applauding a 6’2” Mother Goose as she races to put a roof over the head of orphans and change the ways of the Scrooge-like developer.

Very popular in Britain, a pantomime or ‘panto’ is a type of stage production which involves speaking, songs, dancing and audience involvement. It is built to be entertaining for the whole family. “Basically you take a fairy tale and then you add a level of adult humor and a level of kids humor, and hopefully the kids get the kids humor and not the adult humor,” Lacey laughed.

The panto is a perfect way to approach difficult societal issues said Lacey, who started Hope PACT ten years ago and is also the writer and director of the Christmas production.

“Yes they’re tough subjects, but when you put humor in with them you raise the awareness in a way that people are open to. They’re not going to be depressed or sad, they’re there to be a part of it and really share in it,” she said. “We’ve got to poke some fun at it and then come up with some solutions.”

Although none of the characters are meant to resemble real people, those who see the play may recognize the struggles of affordable housing, homelessness and renting with pets.

Nestled in the play is even a reference to SOGI, as the blue fairy speaks of his childhood wearing fairy clothes and his conviction to keep being who he is into adulthood.

With actors whose only training has come from performing with Hope PACT, the panto is full of creative energy and the audience gets to see the reality of life on stage.

“Because it’s live theatre you have the mistakes that happen and then you get to see the cast work through those. If somebody doesn’t have a line or says the wrong line or doesn’t come out when they’re supposed to. It’s all very down to earth, you’re seeing it the way it is. There are no retakes,” Lacey said.

RELATED: New theatre group stages Christmas pantomime

The script for Mother Goose is a revival of the first play Lacey wrote when she came to Hope. At the time, she had a whole host of naysayers claiming her theatre experiment would never work.

“Everyone in town said it’ll never work. Hope doesn’t do theatre, bla bla bla, you’ll never get anyone in it,” she said. “We had I think a cast of about 30 and it just came together beautifully. There is so many creative people in this town, I couldn’t believe it.”

Some of the actors who starred in the first production are back eight years later. This includes the Meijer and Steberl families, who have several members of their family performing together this year. The Steberl’s were the first ones to sign up when Hope PACT was formed.

RELATED: VIDEO: Wizard of Odd production plays at Legion stage

Mother Goose and the Enchanted Forest will be performed on the Hope Legion stage Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m., and on Dec. 23 at 2 p.m. Admisson is $10 for adults and $5 for school-aged children.

Tickets can be purchased through cast members, or by contacting Lacey at 604-869-2435 or hopepact@gmail.com.


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