Christmas pantomime returns to stage in Hope

Production brings to life familiar storybook characters

The cast of the upcoming Christmas pantomime Beauty

Interest in Hope Performing Arts Community Theatre is growing.

With every show well-attended, performers are lining up to take the stage. Cheryl Lynne Lacey started the local theatre company in August 2011 and since then membership has doubled to about 40.

“It’s just been going fantastic. There’s so many creative people in Hope,” said Lacey, who is also the Fraser-Cascade literacy outreach coordinator. “There’s definitely a need for community theatre. When you look at how just dance alone increases your ability to think, rationalize and solve problems, and then add memorizing scripts, learning parts, and working as a team, it really does increase literacy skills.”

This year, Hope Performing Arts Community Theatre is staging the Christmas pantomime Beauty, the Baron, and the Beast, which is written and directed by Lacey. The musical comedy features about 30 performers, ranging in age from five to 75.

The production is once again set in the town of Hopeful and picks up where last year’s ended, with the Baron being banished to the swamp. The Baron finds out that Mother Goose is inviting storybook characters to town for a Christmas feast. He escapes from the swamp with the help of a Whistling Pixie and turns himself into storybook beast in order to attend the dinner, determined to ruin the event. Along the way, the Baron finds out about his childhood and learns a big lesson about bullying.

“The message this year is all about family and inclusion,” said Lacey. “It’s got a real surprise ending that wraps up why the Baron is the way he is. It really did end up about the importance of including all members of society and being comfortable with differences. Differences are what create storybooks and towns.”

Returning characters include the Green Geenie, Gus the Goose, Mother Goose, Queen of Hearts, Snow White, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Humpty Dumpty, Repunzel, and the Royal Huntsman.

Beauty, the Baron, and the Beast runs Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Hope Legion. There are also two shows at the Hope Station – Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 23 at noon. The Dec. 15 show is a fundraiser for the Hope & District Arts Council. Admission is $8 with a food bank donation. Admission to the Dec. 22 performance is $10 and $12 on Dec. 23, which includes brunch. Children are half price for the first two shows.

Tickets for Dec. 15 are available from Hope Arts Gallery and The Art Machine. Hope Signcrafters has tickets for the Dec. 22 show. Anyone interested in attending on Dec. 23 is asked to contact Lacey by Dec. 20 at 604-206-7227 or hopepact@gmail.com.