Kat Palmer, left, and Kyra Leroux during the final dress rehearsal for Alice in Wonderland – The Panto, which opened at Metro Theatre Dec. 13 and runs to Jan. 4. (photo by Tracy-Lynn Chernaske)
“In Alice in Wonderland – The Panto, audiences will see all of their favourite characters from the original story in a new, more hilarious light,” Kyra Leroux told the Independent. The panto opened at Metro Theatre on Dec. 13 and runs to Jan. 4.
“This show is definitely a lot more silly and ridiculous than the original Alice in Wonderland story, but the difference that really strikes me the most is my character, Alice,” said Leroux, who is a member of Perry Ehrlich’s ShowStoppers and a past participant in the Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! annual summer theatre program at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. “In this show, Alice has so much confidence and spunk, which is exactly what you would expect from a curious, forward-thinking young woman!
“She’s such a fun character to play because I see myself in her in so many ways. Although at first she is confused about which direction she wants to take her life, relying on others to show her the way, she soon realizes that she can make her own decisions and take charge of her own life, thereby gaining so much confidence.
“Alice loves to joke around,” added Leroux, “and, at times, even matches the absolute absurdity of characters such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. Despite feeling stuck in her confusing situation, Alice is never one to take herself too seriously, which is exactly like me in real life.”
An easy-going attitude will also help Jewish community member Kat Palmer in her role as stage manager of the production.
“Pantos definitely conjure up the phrase ‘controlled chaos.’ While there is always a certain element of surprise with live theatre,” said Palmer, “each performance of the panto is undoubtedly ever-changing, with a unique audience every night – so much of this show is determined by audience participation and the actors improvising.
“Pantos are always a family favourite,” she said, “because kids are encouraged to react loudly – they boo the Demon and cheer for the Good Fairy. As a stage manager, I might plan to call a sound or lighting cue on a certain line but, if the actor is ad-libbing or we have a particularly rowdy audience, the line may not happen when it’s supposed to. You have to be on your toes and focused all the time. Whereas musicals and plays are more set in stone, the panto will be a different show every night.”
The silliness of it all is what Leroux most enjoys.
“Throughout the process,” she said, “it has been so much fun to just let go and allow myself to be absolutely ridiculous along with my castmates. My favourite days in rehearsal are when I get to watch other actors make choices that make me laugh so hard I feel like I could explode! With that in mind, the most challenging thing about being in a panto is being so focused and in character onstage that you will never break character and laugh at what others are doing. There are so many hilarious moments in the show that even I, after seeing them over and over again, have to work hard not to laugh. That being said, I’m so excited to see how audiences will react when they see all of my favourite moments for the first time.”
For tickets to Alice in Wonderland – The Panto, call 604-266-7191 or visit tickets.metrotheatre.com.