What the Dickens?

The Peninsula Players bring A Christmas Carol: the Panto to Sidney's Mary Winspear Centre this month.

Tony Garnett holds his ears while rehearsing the role of Scrooge Sunday night.

When he first arrived on the local theatre scene, Gerald Schieven hadn’t ever played a women before.

That would change almost immediately after arriving in this province after changing jobs. An astronomer by trade, Schieven was heavily involved in community theatre in Hawaii. One of the first things he did when coming to work in B.C. in 2008, was to look for a similar troupe of actors. He’s been involved with the Players ever since — acting and directing.

These days, he’s the director of The Peninsula Players’ upcoming show: A Christmas Carol, The Panto.

“When I first came here, I saw an ad for a pantomime, directed by Dick Mills,” Schieven said. “I got the role of the Dame and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Classic pantomime, he explained, involves taking a piece of work — in this case Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol — and adapting it as a farce. Typically, a man will play a female lead (it’s not Schieven this time) and the production will be fraught with puns and bad jokes featuring as much local content as possible.

Schieven added the band for the show, What the Dickens, has even been tasked with re-writing music from the play to fit local, provincial and national themes. Schieven said audiences can expect to hear references to Justin Bieber and Stephen Harper, to name a few.

“A panto is a traditional British, family show, with lots of interaction between the cast and audiences.

“People are encouraged to boo Scrooge and cheer on the chorus and applaud when Dickens himself (played by Matt Watson) appears.

A Christmas Carol: the Panto, was written by Adrian Barrade. It includes music the audience will be encouraged to sing along to.

“While it includes all of the elements of a pantomime, the author stays faithful to the original Dickens story.”

In normal pantomimes, however, the villain doesn’t change as drastically as Scrooge does in the story. That means, Schieven said, the audience could very well change those boos into cheers.

Schieven said his challenge so far has been working with a large cast of around 26 actors, including children and even a puppet or two.

“The cast ranges from no experience whatsoever to those who have plenty of it,” said the director. “But we’re coming together and having a lot of fun.”

Sets and costumes will represent the period, Schieven said, but also add hints of modern day themes. Overall, it’ll be minimalist while evoking the period in which Dickens set A Christmas Carol. Schieven said the production is not about big sets — it’s about the gags, slapstick and audience participation.

“People are just going to have a lot of fun,” he said.

The Dame, or Big Mama as Schieven called the role, is being performed by Allan Souliere. Tiny Tim will be played by Travis Harfield and Bob Cratchit will be played by Chris Bocking.

The Peninsula Players kick off the seasonal performances Dec. 12 to 14 at the Berwick Theatre in Saanich.

They return to their new digs at the Mary Winspear Centre for six shows at the Charlie White Theatre.

A Christmas Carol: the Panto runs Dec. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. Dec.  21 at 2 p.m. Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 27 and 28 at 2 p.m.

Tickets for the Sidney shows are available at that Mary Winspear Centre at 250656-0275 or online at tickets.marywinspear.ca, or www.berwickretirement.com/royal-oak for the Saanich performances.

For details about the Peninsula Players, visit their website at www.thepeninsulaplayers.ca.

Just Posted

Fire-ravaged North Saanich restaurant not likely to re-open until spring

Voicemail greeting from owner of Deep Cove Chalet thanks those who have reached out after Oct. 28 kitchen fire

Greater Victoria hotels named best in Canada

Beacon Inn at Sidney ranks third in 3-star category, Magnolia and Abigail’s also named

Extreme case of poop-throwing gives Victoria bike community a bad name

Car centric roads and infrastructure invite cyclist-motorist incidents, says cycling coalition

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

Woman thrown from mobility scooter in downtown Sidney collision

Pickup truck attempting a right turn struck woman in crosswalk

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Good Food Summit plants seeds for food security

The Good Food Summit runs Nov. 22 and 23

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry, ride-hailing group says

Ridesharing Now for BC says it had hoped the bill would be more customer-driven like in other cities

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Vancouver Island men face ordered to pay thousands in fines following deer meat sting

The incidents happened years ago but sentencing was recently concluded.

The Vancouver Island elasmosaur needs your help

Famous Comox Valley fossil hunting for votes in chase to become BC symbol

Most Read