Mike Parker first fell in love with live theatre at the age of eight, when he was taken to see a Christmas pantomime of Jack in the Beanstalk.
He got so engrossed in the story that he jumped up and punched the Giant for being mean to Jack.
Luckily both Parker and the Giant survived to perform another day.
Fast forward a few decades, and Parker is still drawn to the stage. And somewhat ironically, the Langley actor has once again found himself embroiled in the humour and action of a Christmas pantomime.
This time out, however, he’s officially part of the cast. He’s playing Rumpelstiltskin in Vagabond Player’s current production of Sleeping Beauty.
The New Westminster-based drama group hasn’t performed a pantomime since 1987, but ventured out on that limb this year, with Alex Ross and Jeremy Heynen’s version of Sleeping Beauty.
They bring the classic fairytale to life as a brand new, family-friendly pantomime that opened Nov. 23 and runs through Dec. 17 at the Bernie Legge Theatre.
In their version of Sleeping Beauty, a prince stumbles across a castle that nobody else can see, in Queens Park (which just so happens to be where the Bernie Legge Theatre is located).
An old man tells the prince a story of how an evil fairy put a curse on a princess 116 years ago.
“Don’t miss this comedic interactive adventure, a brand new, fun for all ages, non-traditional pantomime,” said director Bev Pride.
Sleeping Beauty is appropriate for a family audiences, and promises to keep guests singing and laughing throughout, added co-director Elizabeth Drummond.
Parker’s no stranger to Vagabond
The play features Parker, who has been involved with community theatre in the Fraser Valley more officially since he was 19 years old. And as the thespian tells it, he’s done every job possible during that time.
Most recently, Parker trod the boards at Vagabonds in 2016 when he played Ernie, the Pizza Man, in the world premiere of Body & Soul.
He also acted in the society’s production of Murder by the Book, and directed Goodnight, Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), which was Vagabond’s Festival entry in 2014.
Parker said he’s has always wanted to take part in a pantomime – his dream coming true with this production.
He joins a full cast including Theresa Cowley as the sleeping princess and Faith Hurd as the prince who comes to break the spell and awaken her. He’s also joined by Maegan Eastwood as mother fairy and Denise Brookson as Magnificent – represent the forces of good and evil, along with the king and queen, who are played by Jean-Francois Thivierge and Roger Monk.
The cast is rounded out by Jennifer Misera as the old man, Elizabeth Irving as concord, and a troupe of highly original fairies played by Delaney Gilmour, Anisha Thivierge, Frederique Roussel, Vivian Davidson, and Janessa Thivierge.
Sleeping Beauty runs Thursdays to Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets vary from $12 to $17 depending on age, and are available online or by calling 604-521-0412.