East Van Panto: Pinocchio brings Theatre Replacement’s beloved panto back to The Cultch York Theatre on Commercial Drive. Until January 5, 2020, tag along as Pinocchio, with help from his friends and family, seeks to become a real boy.
For its 7th year, Theatre Replacement brought back playwright Marcus Youssef and director Stephen Drover to update the take of Pinocchio. With brilliant musical direction and lyrics by Veda Hille, who performs on stage with Barry Mirochnick. As usual for East Van Panto, the traditional fairytale has been modified to fit the neighbourhood, and incorporate local landmarks, personalities and events, with a dose of political and social commentary thrown in for laughs.
In this East Van Panto: Pinocchio, we find a lonely East Van ice cream vendor, named Gelato, dreams for a family to love. Thanks to a social (media) savvy fairy, the dream becomes a reality as his scrap built puppet comes to life. Before Pinocchio can fully become a real boy he is led astray but some ne’re do well Canadian icons, but aided by an even more iconic locally famous cricket-man, Pinocchio regains his way.
Lead by Shawn Macdonald, Pippa Mackie, Chirag Naik, Amanda Sum and Naimo Wright, almost all of the cast does double, if not triple duty, throughout Pinocchio, each playing multiple featured and supporting roles, including the trio of adorable child performers. In addition, the entire cast of triple-threats (over)act, dance and sing to Youssef’s sharp dialogue, Amanda Testini’s lively choreography, and Veda Hille’s brilliantly witty lyrics. The music is a huge part of Panto, being adaptation of familiar pop songs and standards, the music is instantly familiar but paying close attention to the lyrics will often induce gut-busting laughter.
While the story behind this, or any, East Van Panto may seem so completely over-the-top outlandish, it is a perfect blend of slapstick, social awareness and music that the whole family will find something to love about the performance. Adults will find hilarity in the sly, local pop-culture references and inuendo while kids will love the outlandish costumes and overacting. Plus the traditional Panto interactions with the actors; oohs, aws, shouting “look behind you” or “Oh, no you didn’t”, all bring the audience into the show.
Theatre Replacements 7th Annual East Van Panto: Pinocchio plays at The York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, until January 5, 2020. Find tickets and showtimes at thecultch.com/events/east-van-panto-pinocchio