By Anna Tatelman, Special to the Mirror
It’s that time of year again: strings of lights brightening the darkened winter streets, pine trees scenting the air, familiar holiday tunes playing in every store – and a panto at Centerstage Theatre.
Although the average American has likely never seen or even heard of a panto, this type of musical comedy has become a staple of the holiday season here in Federal Way. This year, Centerstage has brought to life an adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty,” written by Vince Brady and directed by Helen Marion.
Fans of the original fairy tale won’t be disappointed by this rendition. Whether you’re hoping to coo over the love story, get caught up in the fairy magic, or witness the battle of good versus evil, that’s all there.
But this modernized adaptation also holds plenty of novel delights, too. These include some funny references to local spots like Enumclaw, a more egalitarian take on the love story, and delightfully witty song parodies that’ll make you want to both dance in your seats and soak up the genius lyrics all at once (my personal favorites were the parodies of Frozen’s “Let It Go” and Katy Perry’s “Roar”).
The show is a visual treat from start to finish. Choreographer Taylor Davis crafts a fun mixture of upbeat group dance numbers and more elegant (though still cheeky) dances that incorporate modern ballet. Morgan Morgans’ costumes are eye-catching and bright, particularly the drag-inspired costumes made for Nurse Nellie. And let’s not forget the dragon, a mighty prop operated by multiple people and designed by Roger Rostad.
In line with the panto tradition, audiences are encouraged to boo the villain, who is in this case the Wicked Fairy Carabosse. But actress Olivia Lee has a way of mesmerizing everyone both on stage and in the audience, making it hard to know whether to boo or cheer her. Brad Cerenzia, who plays Nurse Nellie, easily captures laughs with his deadpan sense of humor. Other standout performers include Kyle Sinclair as the mildly neurotic Prince Peter of Puyallup, Jasmine Wright as the feminist Princess Aurora, and Cassie Jo Fastabend as the put-upon jester Jangles.
Take some time to wander through the Centerstage lobby before the show or during intermission, as it’s been decked out with an impressive Christmas tree that makes for a great photo opportunity. You can also order an array of snacks and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Centerstage has partnered with Blackfish Spirit Distillery to present two specialty cocktails for the run of the panto. One of these is The Dame’s Nightcap, which is a delicious blend of hot chocolate with your choice of both toppings and spirits. If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, try the Spinning Wheel, which is a refreshing mix of vodka, Lemon Herb Syrup, and soda water or tonic.
“Sleeping Beauty: A Holiday Panto” runs through December 17. Performances occur Friday evenings, Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoons. To learn about pricing options or purchase tickets, visit Centerstagetheatre.com.
Anna Tatelman is a playwright, lyricist, and essayist who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. She has been featured or quoted in publications such as Forbes, Indeed.com, CareerBuilder, Techopedia, and POPSUGAR. Read more of her work or connect with her online at www.annatatelman.com.