Nursery rhyme comes to life in Ladysmith panto

The Ladysmith Little Theatre's Christmas pantomime, Sing a Song of Sixpence, runs from Dec. 20-31.

Cast members rehearse for Ladysmith Little Theatre’s upcoming pantomime

Blackbirds fly out of a pie.

Men dress like women.

Actors dance to Psy’s Gangnam Style.

It can only mean one thing — it’s pantomime time once again at the Ladysmith Little Theatre. This Christmas, the theatre is presenting Sing a Song of Sixpence by Norman Robbins from Dec. 20-31.

Based on the beloved nursery rhyme of the same name, this play takes the audience on a fun-filled frolic through royal palaces, haunted bedrooms, enchanted kingdoms and a witch’s lair.

The king’s magic crown has been stolen, and it will take boldness and cunning to outsmart the blackbirds. Fortunately, Prince Valentine is there to save the day, along with Dame Durdon, Simple Simon and the good Fairy Gossamer.

A pantomime is a music-comedy theater production that often incorporates song, dance, slapstick comedy, cross dressing and audience participation, and director Mort Paul says this production is a lot closer to the nursery rhyme upon which it’s based than most pantomimes are in many ways.

The panto is based in the kingdom of Cornucopia.

“It’s abundant with everything,” explained Paul. “Everybody’s well-off, and everybody’s happy because of the king’s magic crown. But once the queen steals it, their clothes turn to tatters.”

Pantomimes often include dames — male actors dressed in drag who can often be over-the-top with their big hair and makeup — and Sing a Song of Sixpence features two.

Sing a Song of Sixpence also features a chorus of local girls between the ages of seven and 12.

“They sing and dance, and they have a really good time,” said Paul. “They’re fun to watch.”

Paul says the production includes a lot of musical numbers that the audience can sing along to, and there is even a piece choreographed to Psy’s  Gangnam Style.

“We hope it will be fun for everyone,” he said. “There’s a lot of silliness, as always, including a scene in the haunted bedroom.”

Paul says directing a panto is always interesting because there are so many people of all ages and backgrounds.

“Because we are all ages — we’re going from seven to, I think, 77 — everyone’s got their own little lives we have to work around,” he said. “It’s a bundle of all kinds of energy.”

Paul says the three women working on costumes for Sing a Song of Sixpence are kept very busy, as everyone’s clothes have to turn to tatters, and then they need new clothes. As well, specialized props have to be created.

“It’s all coming together,” he said last week. “We have lots of musical numbers, and as a result, it’s a lot more rehearsal to put that together. I think we have something like 14 musical numbers. It should be a lot of fun.”

Inga Cathers plays the maid whose nose is pecked off by the blackbirds, and she is excited to be part of her third panto with Ladysmith Little Theatre.

“The panto is always fun,” she said. “I always look forward to watching the kids’ faces as they see the nursery rhyme come to life. I also like to watch their parents, who get the little jokes the kids don’t — or shouldn’t — understand.

“I remember this rhyme from the time I was six years old, so to see the funny story behind it is fun.”

Sing a Song of Sixpence runs from Dec. 20-31. Call the box office at 250-924-0658 or click here for information and tickets.

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