More About Slipper…
Rebecca Northan Brings Hilarity to ATP’s Holiday Show with Slipper
By the time Rebecca Northan and her merry band of comedic collaborators, Bruce Horak and Christian Goutsis, get through with the fairy tale classic, Cinderella, for this year’s family holiday show at Alberta Theatre Projects, that classic glass slipper may have morphed into a cowboy boot.
Slipper: A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story is a pantomime adaptation of Cinderella distilled through the comedic vision of playwright and director Northan, a Calgary-born, Toronto-based master of audience engagement and creator of the international stage hits Blind Date and Legend Has It. Horak and Goutsis, both ATP regulars, collaborated on the script, composed the music, and designed the sound.
A pantomime, or “panto” as it’s more commonly known, is an extremely popular, family-friendly style of holiday theatre that’s been delighting British audiences for over 200 years. It commonly features physical comedy, pop culture references, audience participation, cross-dressing actors, pop song spoofs and topical humour, all woven into an adaptation of a traditional fairy tale.
“I don’t remember seeing what’s considered a traditional panto as a kid,” says Northan “but I realized the training I had at Loose Moose Theatre Company, doing kids’ shows there, borrowed a lot of conventions from panto.”
While the show bears many of the hallmarks of the panto genre, Northan says she also wanted to put a fresh, modern spin on some of panto’s more traditional elements. “Kevin Kruchkywich, who plays our Fairy Godmother (a character role known as ‘The Dame’ in panto – meaning it’s played by a man in drag) has the most incredible costumes in the show and we get to witness the character’s transition from ‘awkward in heels’ to ‘fully fabulous’. It’s not just funny because it’s a man wearing a dress, it’s also grounded in truth and soul searching.”
But what Northan thinks will resonate most with Calgary audiences is the substance of the story, which she describes as “a love letter to Calgary and a modern fairy tale where the heroine isn’t a pushover. It’s not just girl meets boy, they fall in love, the end. Cinderella learns something about family, accepting help, and pursuing the things in life that bring her joy – all while teaching a few lessons to others along the way.”
Alongside the hilarious antics and references to life in Calgary (Stampede, secondary suites, the Giant Blue Ring) and a series of delightfully magical surprises that Northan won’t give away, the show also has moments that bring the audience into the action. However, unlike the almost entirely improvised Legend Has It or Blind Date, Slipper is a scripted play with a set storyline. “There are plenty of moments for the audience to shout out and participate from their seats, as a group – rather than an individual being invited up to be the star of the show, as in my previous work. Slipper is 95 per cent structured, 5 per cent improvised.”
Alberta Theatre Projects recommends the show for kids over the age of five, but according to Northan it’s not just fun for kids. “Like any great piece of theatre Slipper plays on multiple levels. There are really big laughs for adults that will go straight over kids’ heads, and a few laughs for teens that only they will understand.”
If ever there was a holiday season in need of extra levity, surely this is it.
The show runs November 22nd to December 31st at the Martha Cohen Theatre at Arts Commons.
For tickets and more information, click HERE or call 403-294-7402