Katherine Matlashewski plays Mopsy in Metro Theatre’s musical panto King Arthur’s Court. (photo by Tracy-Lynn Chernaske)
While Katherine Matlashewski has numerous acting, singing and choreographing credits on her resumé, the musical panto King Arthur’s Court, which opens tonight (Dec. 14) at Metro Theatre, will be her first pantomime.
“Unlike a traditional play, there is a lot of improv and audience participation,” she explained about a panto. “This can be a challenge because, as an actor, you never know what is going to happen.”
But it’s also part of the fun. “In any show,” she said, “everyone brings something unique to the table. In this wonderful cast [of 28], there is such a wide range in age and skill level.”
In contrast, King Arthur’s Court marks fellow Jewish community member Heather Webster’s third panto. Webster has been stage-managing at Metro for about five years now, but her connection to Metro – and pantos – goes further back.
“My first theatre experience came from my grandmother, Shirley Rose,” Webster told the Independent. “She took me to the Metro Theatre when I was 12 for my first panto. From there, I got into working backstage and learning stage craft in high school at Kitsilano from Julie Bond. In Grade 11, I began volunteering at the Metro Theatre, and have been ever since.”
Webster, who used to work as an on-call tech for the Rothstein Theatre at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, does stage-managing in her off-time. Her full-time job is with Purolator.
Matlashewski teaches at Arts Umbrella. “I love having the opportunity to share my love of visual and performing arts,” she said. “I believe it is so important for kids to have a creative outlet as part of their education.”
In addition, Matlashewski owns a small business, Sweetheart’s Baking, which can be found on Instagram and Facebook. “Like theatre,” she said, “my passion for baking started at a young age. This keeps me extremely busy when I am not in a show.”
At age 2, her mother enrolled her in her first dance class at Arts Umbrella. “In the years to follow,” Matlashewski said, “I continued my training in dance while also exploring theatre and visual arts. My love of musical theatre began at a very young age. Since then, I have not looked back. I feel extremely blessed to have had multiple opportunities to train with so many professionals in the industry. I am grateful to have taken part in programs such as the Arts Club’s Musical Theatre Intensive and the Pre-Professional Musical Theatre Troupe at Arts Umbrella.”
Among Matlashewski’s teachers and colleagues in the Jewish community have been Erika Babins, Perry Ehrlich and Wendy Bross Stuart, to name only a few.
“As a result,” said Matlashewski, who comes from a small family, “I have had many wonderful opportunities to connect with others in the community, create a positive support network, and learn more about my culture. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a warm and welcoming community.”
Matlashewski has also worked with the director of King Arthur’s Court before.
“Last year,” she said, “I worked with Chris Adams (our director) on RCMT’s [Royal City Musical Theatre’s] concert production of Into the Woods. He encouraged me to take part in this production.”
Adams was most recently featured in the Independentfor directing and co-producing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of FleetStreet (jewishindependent.ca/experience-sweeneys-revenge). While this isMatlashewski’s first show with Metro, this will be Adams’ seventh show andthird panto with the theatre.
“I remember sitting in the audience, as a little kid, booing the demon and cheering the good fairy and then rushing to the stage after the show, just to get autographs from the cast,” he recalls on Metro’s website. “From that childhood time,” he says, “panto has kept a warm place in my heart.”
King Arthur’s Court will feature a demon and a fairy, too, along with a dragon and, of course, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Chivalry and chicanery will run aplenty, and the audience will be encouraged to cheer and jeer.
Matlashewski plays Mopsy, the court jester. “My role requires me to do lots of singing, dancing and goofing around onstage,” she said. “I also talk directly to the audience at certain times.”
And, behind the scenes, Webster will be managing the chaos. For her, she said, “The best part is when I get to hear the kids talk to the actors during the meet-and-greets, and hearing their favourite parts of the show.”
For more information about and tickets to KingArthur’s Court, visit metrotheatre.com/currentshow. It runs until Jan. 5.