The tradition started nearly two decades ago… A ragtag group of thespians gathered in Meacham’s Dancing Sky Theatre to create a holiday performance for all ages. The result, 10 prairie pantos all with an original story, music, puppetry and plenty of laughs.
“We have a family with three generations that have come every year since we began.”
Angus Ferguson says many many families have made the prairie panto their tradition. (photo provided)
“The panto for me means Christmas,” says director Angus Ferguson. “There’s so many people in our audience who’ve made this show a family tradition. We have a family with three generations that have come every year since we began.”
This year’s offering, Jack and the End of the World, is set in a small town where Jack, The Widow Spriggins, Fred, Ed and Monty get a surprise visit from the four horsemen of the apocalypse; Pestilence, War, Famine, and Ennui (discontent). The characters have to roll up their sleeves and get on with it: which is the Saskatchewan way! This goofy show is built from scratch by the cast and crew.
“It’s anarchy!” Ferguson explains, “You create the performance collectively. Everyone is coming up with ideas and building things. It’s a bit terrifying but also a great way to exercise our theatre muscles.”
This year marks the return of cast members James O’Shea and Crispi Lord, who’ve been there since the beginning, fan favourites Blaine Hart and Jenna Berenbaum, as well as panto “newbie” Bongani Musa.
Actors James O’Shea and Crispi Lord (l-r) have been with Dancing Sky Theatre’s holiday panto since it began. (Britainy Zapshalla)
“It’s not a precious form of theatre. There are fewer rules and we just get to play with each other. The audience will not be disappointed.”
“The panto is a celebration of community with local references and inside jokes,” explains O’Shea. “It’s not a precious form of theatre. There are fewer rules and we just get to play with each other. The audience will not be disappointed.”
This is a performance where the audience doesn’t sit quietly, they’re invited to play along.
“”We have our basic story but there’s huge parts where we leave room for the audience,” says Ferguson. “We want them to laugh, cheer and sing along. It doesn’t feel like Christmas without the panto and we’re so excited to be back!”