The show must go on: Centerstage works to bring holiday show to Federal Way

Despite losing the city’s contract, Centerstage set to bring beloved holiday pantomime to Federal Way.

A holiday tradition for Federal Way, Centerstage will put on its annual pantomime starting Nov. 30 at the Knutzen Family Theater.

This year will feature the beloved fairytale “Rapunzel,” in classically hilarious pantomime fashion.

Trista Duvall, artistic director for this production, is excited to share one of her favorite art forms again for the local community. A pantomime, for those who have never seen one before, is a type of play where the fourth wall is more or less non-existent, Duvall said.

A pantomime is a form of theatrical spectacle common in England during Christmas-time. The production is usually adapted from a fairy tale and includes characters who perform songs, dances and tell jokes.

Duvall said it’s a fun play on classic fairy tales and stories everyone knows, usually with pop culture references and local humor.

“It’s the classic fairytale that just kind of makes you feel like you’re putting on warm cozy slippers, are you’re like, ‘aw, I love this,’ and then that … spice and fun and surprise of every song is one you know and you wanna sing along to,” she said.

There’s humor included for all ages, so the kids are laughing along because they think they got all the jokes, but the parents are in stitches because they know they got all the jokes, Duvall said.

While the cast and crew are excited to bring this production to Federal Way, the preparation hasn’t been without hardships, Duvall said.

Earlier this year the Federal Way City Council decided not to renew its contract with Centerstage, which expired in June 2018. The three-year contract paid Centerstage $100,000 a year to manage the Knutzen Family Theater at Dumas Bay.

According to the city, the decision was purely financial, but for Centerstage the loss of that contract money was unexpected, Duvall said.

“It was always in the back of our minds, obviously, when this contract is up it could go away.” She said, “But if you are doing a job well and it’s a job that needs to be done, it feels far less likely that the job will go away.”

To still provide the shows and experiences to the community Centerstage has been doing for over three decades, they have been balancing their time between a small office space and storage units. Duvall’s father, who works at the Boeing Co. in Seattle, has also been helping to build the stage props in his garage at night.

“I can look out my bedroom window and my dad, who wakes up for Boeing at three o’clock in the morning tomorrow, is out in his garage building the set for ‘Rapunzel’ because we had to cut those costs and we couldn’t afford a professional carpenter to build the set,” she said.

Some of the actors have also brought up the idea of giving up their stipends to help with the organization’s financial situation, Duvall said. While this was taken as a very thoughtful notion, Duvall said they did not want to take away the stipends from the cast and crew, though she was touched by the gesture.

Auditions for the play were held three months ago, and the cast and crew have been working hard since to perfect the playwright’s vision for a “Rapunzel” pantomime, she said.

Duvall herself is not doing anything on stage, but is acting as the artistic director.

“I would be the one to read the script when it first came out and give my input, take a look at any tweaks to give final aproval,” she said.

She also has a hand in setting up auditions and calling back potential good fits for roles, but the final say is in the director’s hand.

People interested in attending the show can find tickets online at Centerstage’s website, www.centerstagetheatre.com, as well as more information about show dates and times.

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