Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society (FVGSS) are putting on a panto production of Cinderella this holiday season at the main stage of the Surrey Arts Centre.
Pantomime (or panto), is a type of interactive musical comedy developed in England and performed particularly during the Christmas season – consisting of clear heroes, villains, and classical, almost always fantastical, elements.
Founded in 1982, the initial FVGSS performances were made of excerpts from the works of beloved entertainers Gilbert and Sullivan, and then, as funds permitted, operettas and full panto productions.
Jim Nelson, President of FVGSS, said even in the changing theatre landscape, interest as never been better; the cast and crew consists of more than 60 people.
“Like so many other longstanding theatre groups we have had to evolve with the times. Audience tastes are changing and so must we,” Nelson explained. “We have kept our musical roots and family based audience and have continued to do what we do best, Large Scale Musicals.”
Though the production is happening in Surrey, Nelson said theatregoers from Langley make up about a quarter of the FVGSS audience while several Langleyites had a hand in the production as well.
“Ron Williams, former Langley School teacher and veteran of Bard in the Park has played a key role in the set construction,” Nelson explained. “Ophelia Kenyon is in the Youth chorus.”
Kenyon said she loves to act, sing, and dance, and wants to keep doing this for the rest of her life; previous musical credits include Giants in the Sky and Into the Woods Jr with Cast and Crew Theatre, with whom she will play Alice in Through the Looking Glass in the spring of next year.
Nelson said there is a new script each year and Cinderella was chosen from an audience survey. While the story of Cinderella is certainly known far and wide, Nelson added that FVGSS adds a unique spin to every production; this year, seventies music plays a big role.
“We have been performing Pantos since 1985 starting with a very traditional approach but we have evolved. We are much more musical and we are very serious dancers,” Nelson said. “For example this year’s show is all 70s music. An ABBA song is not traditional nor is Time Warp from a very famous horror film.”
Current suggestions for Panto 2020 are Hercules and Beauty and the Beast.
The production runs Nov. 27 to Dec. 8 at Surrey Arts Centre, 13750 88 ave.
For tickets and more information on the society, people can visit www.fvgss.org.
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