We all need to laugh at life and ourselves once in a while and Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto at the York Theatre gives us that opportunity every year which is why it’s always my most anticipated performance. Some may say I’m biased but there’s a reason for it. Usually my theatre taste runs towards thought provoking and challenging pieces which musicals often aren’t, however the East Van Panto is always witty – in both it’s reworked recognizable pop tunes as well as it’s dialogue and jokes which incorporate current events, politics and local culture.
This year’s Wizard of Oz, directed by Stephen Drover is no different, although with a new playwright at the helm, local award winning Marcus Youssef. The production starts off a little heavy on the politics but then finds it’s playful groove providing laughs for adults and children alike. Christine Quintana is perfection as Dorothy with both her energy and voice. I also enjoyed Raugi Yu as the lovable Stone Crow and Angela Chu in the Chorus, as well as the guest appearance by ‘Chocolate’ Chip Wilson (Kayvon Khoshkam) although all performers were enjoyable including the children, which are incorporated well.
Other highlights include the chickens (performance, choreography and costumes), Laura Zerebeski’s beautiful depictions of Vancouver as the set back drops and singing in a variety of languages. Even if you don’t get all of the jokes, or agree with them, the Panto is 2 hours of good fun. Treat yourself this Christmas, you deserve it! You can even get some Xmas shopping done as Panto merch and Laura’s artwork are available for sale. Check the Cultch website for details and times for accessible shows (ASL, Vocal Eye, relaxed performances) as well as talk backs. And since it’s kid centric note evening shows start early at 7pm!
The East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz is playing at the York theatre until 6 January 2019.
Tickets at: https://thecultch.com/events/east-van-panto-wizard-of-oz/
~ reviewed by Karen Roller
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