Sleeping Beauty panto opens at Fort Edmonton Park’s Capitol Theatre


Sleeping Beauty
Dec 14 to 31
Capitol Theatre
Fort Edmonton Park
Tickets: $18 to $50 Visit

Entertainment throughout the holiday season is more than just a retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or another viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s also a time for pranks and laughter, and that only means the fourth British style panto is back at Fort Edmonton Park’s Capitol Theatre.

“The panto is popular because it’s the theatre of story and it has the ability to include politics, popular culture and music. It’s a clown show and a lot of the jokes work on many levels for both kids and adults. And we put on some pretty good shows,” says Capitol Theatre artistic director Dana Andersen.

This year Andersen is mounting playwright Jocelyn Ahlf’s embellished version of Sleeping Beauty, a warped fairy tale complete with magic, fairies, spells, true love, dancing, shipwrecks and pirates.

Ahlf hesitates to leak advance news of the panto’s synopsis. It will spoil the surprise gags she says. However, the popular playwright-actor has snatched the role of Carabosse, the Maleficent type evil queen. Davina Stewart is her good sister, the Sugar Plum fairy garbed in sneakers. Prepare for a few sisterly fireworks.

Jameela MacNeil is the beautiful princess while Darrin Hagen jumps into the traditional panto role of the Dame as Fanny Bum-Fizzle, the unorthodox proprietor of a candy shop.

And three St. Albert actors also join the fray. Luc Tellier is Master Cat, a cavalier and resourceful Puss in Boots type character, while Gabriel Gagnon slips into the costume of Tom, the adopted miller’s son. Madeleine Knight plays Sourpuss, the grumpy cat and mean henchman to the evil queen.

“This is not from the Disney version. I borrowed it from Tchaikovsky’s ballet. Fortunately it had a Puss and Boots character in it. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I did like the idea of bringing cats on stage,” says Ahlf.

Knight is a veteran of the panto, but has in past productions always played the sweet ingenue or a bold feminist figure, one that usually gets plenty of cheers and fist pumps from the audience.

“This role is an interesting shift. There’s so much more fun with a cartoon character and as an actor you can do so much more with your voice and your walk. I’m most excited to see the audience reaction. For three years I’ve played good people. Now I’m the bad guy,” chuckles Knight.

Tellier notes that the focus of this version centres around Carabosse.

“At the end, all the characters have come away with something they love, and Carrabosse who thought love and joy is unattainable discovers she just needed to wake it up.”

Ahlf is quick to reassure that this panto is a genuine Sleeping Beauty production.

“We just had to turn it on its head.”

Sleeping Beauty runs Dec. 14 to 31.


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Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.