Lucas Gregory, left, and Daniel Cardoso, in Metro Theatre’s Snow White: The Panto, which runs until Jan. 3. (photo by Nicol Spinola)
“A lot of musical theatre is inherently silly and fun but it still doesn’t reach the level of a holiday panto,” said Daniel Cardoso, who plays the Prince in Metro Theatre’s Snow White: The Panto. An annual treat for more than 35 years, this year’s panto, which runs until Jan. 3, has added significance.
“The past year and a bit has been challenging, not only for the arts community, but for everyone,” said Cardoso. “I got to go to an opening night of a show last week and part of me had forgotten the energy of getting to be in an audience and the joy that it brings to people to get to go to live theatre. I hope that we can do something similar with the panto and that we can act as another step in a return to normalcy.”
“I love being back with the theatre community after so much time away,” said fellow Jewish community member Kat Palmer, who is stage manager of the production. “I think most of the team feels this way. So often actors would be finished working their scenes but would choose to stay a little longer to watch and support their fellow cast members rehearse. There is this sense of returning to what was and that’s been quite moving.”
Things aren’t completely back to normal, of course, as COVID is still is concern.
Metro Theatre requires proof of vaccination, said Palmer. “Usually, pantos have lots of kids and an ensemble – our show has a much smaller cast with no children,” she said. “Everyone – cast, crew and staff – is fully vaccinated. We have taken our inspiration from film sets and have rapid COVID tests on hand. Usually, kids in the audience get to come up on stage – we can’t do that this year. Luckily, there are still lots of opportunities to participate by booing and cheering our demon and good fairy.”
For Palmer, Snow White was “always a favourite growing up – I think mostly because she had black hair like me. But the traditional story is a little dated. Erik Gow, our writer, has done a great job breathing new life into this script. In our version, Snow White is spunky, independent and doesn’t need a prince. She takes charge of her own destiny.”
That said, the prince is still an important part of the story, and it was Palmer who suggested Cardoso try out for the role.
“I’ve known about the Metro Theatre since I was in university and have often gone to see shows there, but the panto this year is the first time I’ve gotten to work there,” he said. “I came to Snow White when Kat Palmer … reached out and asked me to audition for it. I hadn’t initially planned on it but it was an opportunity to work with Chris and Kat and Suzanne again, so I’m glad I did.”
Chris Adams is the director of the production, while Suzanne Ouellette is the choreographer.
Cardoso is a graduate of the musical theatre program at Capilano University and has been working in theatre around Vancouver since 2011. “I was also lucky enough to work on Disney Cruise Line for a few years,” he said. “In 2016, I went back to school to become a registered massage therapist and have been doing that in addition to theatre since 2018.”
While not raised attending shul, Cardoso said his mother and her family are Jewish, “so it is definitely a part of me that I am proud of and something that I think I will always want to learn more about and explore. I know it sounds cliché, especially for a theatre performer, but getting to do a production of Fiddler on the Roof (Gateway, 2012) was a special experience for me in that I got to play in that story and feel like I belonged there instead of just pretending like it.”
For tickets to see Cardoso as the Prince that Snow White (played by Scotia Browner) may or may not need to help her, visit metrotheatre.com. The panto promises to be a “zany and uproariously funny family pantomime,” but that’s not the only reason to check it out.
“The theatre community is hurting right now. We are trying to stay afloat,” said Palmer. “After almost two years of silence, we need your laughter – we need your applause. Please come out and support local theatre.”