Gwendolyn Pusey’s father Allan Pusey plays the bad guy in this year’s Christmas Pantomime, and she thinks that’s pretty funny.
“It’s fun to watch your parent onstage and it’s fun to be acting with them, because Dad is the bad guy, so we have to react like he is the bad guy.”
Her sister Jasmine Grace agrees.
“For him to take on a character that is so unlike himself, that is neat to see,” she says.
As for their Dad, he likes the connection this creates with his daughters.
“I see how passionate they are about acting, and I love being part of that energy as they are bringing their characters to life.”
This opportunity for parents and kids to perform together, singing and acting and dancing in an inter-generational cast of dozens, is built into the pantomime.
Over the past 30 years it’s become a popular performance opportunity for kids, but those under 13 are not allowed to participate unless one of their parents does too.
So for years Nelson kids have been helping their parents venture past their adult comfort zones by performing a wacky musical story in front of sold-out Capitol Theatre audiences.
Pantomime is an old British theatre tradition (and it has nothing to do with mime).
The story is traditionally a well-known fairytale, but fractured, with surprise plot twists and local humour. There is always a character known as the dame — a female character played by a man — and the principal boy, played by a female actor.
But this year, director Laurie Jarvis has ditched the fairy tale part.
For this year’s pantomime she’s written a version of the Archie comics that is, in her carefully chosen word, “silly.”
In Archie in Nelsondale, she says, “The characters are strong, very clear, and well known, and the tricky thing is, let’s just take that 50 per cent more, increase the silliness. And squish them into the panto thing.
“There is lots of audience participation and bad one-liners. You can go and have a few laughs and sing a bit. Come and have a good time.”
Jarvis says there are 10 parent-child combos in the show.
“Parents and kids doing something together that neither of them have done together before is so cool,” she says.
One of those parents is Yann Troutet, who plays the dame, and his daughter Maïté.
“I love it,” Maïté says. “Just the feeling of being on stage. I love theatre and it’s funny seeing him as the dame. I really love the [Capitol Theatre’s] costume shop too.”
Her father says he would not be doing this on his own.
“I love how the panto is set up so it is a family thing, and Maïté has been a huge help. She is my rehearsal partner at home. She knows my lines better than I do.”
Archie in Nelsondale will be performed at the Capitol Theatre Nov. 28, 29, and 30 at 7:30 p.m. There are matinees Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. Tyler Isaacs Dejong is the musical director and Carly Brandel is the choreographer.