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Dive Under the Sea with Vancouver’s Favourite Holiday Theatre Tradition

For its 10th anniversary, the East Van Panto is reimagining ‘The Little Mermaid’ with a local twist.

The Cultch 14 Nov 2022TheTyee.ca

For a decade, Theatre Replacement and The Cultch have brought Vancouver audiences a show like no other: the delightful, irreverent and hilarious East Van Panto. Well-known stories like Cinderella, Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland have received an East Van twist — bringing new life to old favourites and fairytale magic to familiar neighbourhoods.

To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, the East Van Panto is taking a trip under the sea with The Little Mermaid. Live performances at The Cultch’s York Theatre start Nov. 16 and stream online from Dec. 17, through until the end of the year.

So where’s the twist? Ariel (a human teenager) is busking with her girl band at New Brighton Beach when she falls in love with a teenage mer-person. She dives into an ocean adventure, where she makes a questionable deal with a devilish octopus named Ursula, fights off evil electric eels with her trash crab BFF, Sebastian, and has to help save the ocean from a mysterious purple slime of despair.

The writer-director duo from last year’s critically acclaimed East Van Panto: Alice in Wonderland, Sonja Bennett and Meg Roe, return to create this year’s 10th anniversary production alongside Veda Hille, who has been writing the music — fun parodies of popular songs — since the very first East Van Panto. Featuring performances from returning favourites Amanda Sum, Dawn Petten, Ghazal Azarbad and Mark Chavez — as well as Panto newcomer Andrew Wheeler — this show will take audiences on an adventure to the bottom of the Burrard Inlet and back.

“The Panto is something that adults and kids can both enjoy on different levels,” says Bennett, the show’s playwright.

“There is a chemistry to the East Van Panto that transcends description. It is of this community — which happens to be where I live — but it has created a community of its own,” Marsha Lederman writes for the Globe and Mail.

“It is the silliest, most wonderful of traditions. And for me, it has become essential,” she adds.

While the Panto has received many favourable reviews over the years from theatre critics, its biggest endorsement is the many families who have made the East Van Panto an essential part of their holiday season.

“Last year, many people reached out to say how much they loved sharing the Panto with their families and friends around the world, so we’re making it available online again,” says executive director Heather Redfern.

While most Panto fans will enjoy seeing the performance at the York Theatre, The Little Mermaid will also be available online from Dec. 17 to Jan. 1.

Whether this is your first Panto or your 10th — and whether you are 10 or 110, or anywhere in between — this tale of friendship, family, fish, music, love and deep sea magic will make your heart swell with joy.

It’s like the Georgia Straight says: “If the East Van Panto isn’t part of your holiday tradition yet, what are you waiting for?”

For tickets and showtimes, visit The Cultch’s website.  [Tyee]

Read more: Media

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