Jack versus King Trumpalot

Capitol pantomime features zombies and beanstalk hijinks.

Nelson actors Gillian Wiley

To prepare for his role as King Trumpalot in the upcoming Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime at the Capitol Theatre, Nelson actor Denis Senecal spent over 10 hours watching YouTube videos of Donald Trump’s speeches and public appearances.

“It’s almost all in the hand gestures with Trump,” he told the Star, wearing a hat that read Make Beanstalks Great Again, in the days before the American public headed to the polls.

“He has a squinty little face that comes into a point with his mouth, and he’s constantly moving his hands. Another thing I noticed is he never pronounces the ‘h’ in ‘huge’.”

The 35-year-old amateur thespian, who has never performed in a theatre production before, initially auditioned for the chorus before being cast as the flamboyant villain in this play, which was written by Ben Crocker. And so far he’s been making a ‘uge’ impression.

Having moved to Nelson about a year ago, Senecal currently works as an administrator at the Nelson Courthouse while moonlighting as an announcer for local hockey games. When he heard the pantomime was looking for participants he decided it was an opportunity to fulfil a childhood ambition. And though he pitched himself as an English king, complete with a booming accent, the directors decided to take his role in a more contemporary direction.

“The directors, Pat Henman and Karen Agnew, told me I had to go watch Alec Baldwin’s impression of Trump on Saturday Night Live and I just started putting together this character for them. It’s been so much fun.”

Senecal praised the entire cast and crew of the annual endeavour, which in years past has featured characters such as Puss in Boots and Humpty Dumpty. During rehearsal on Sunday, the show’s title character Jack practiced his sword-fighting as a zombie onslaught attacked, showcasing some of the ways this show will diverge from the traditional narrative. The panto features multi-generational cast, including Vaughn Preninger and Gillian Wiley as the leads.

Kozmo Sammartino appears as another villain, while familiar faces like the Civic Theatre’s Jason Asbell and the Nelson Hospice Society’s Jane Digiacomo round out the cast.

Senecal is hugely grateful for the opportunity to strut his stuff.

“It’s kind of like going back to summer camp. It’s unfortunate you can’t have a hundred people because it’s an amazing experience. I would love to come back and be in the chorus next year, because really what I want to do is sing and dance.”

The pantomime will be performed at the Capitol Theatre on Dec. 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m., and there will be 2 p.m. shows on Dec. 3 and 4.

 

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