This panto (pantomime) was written and directed by Vince Brady. Vince grew up in England and enjoyed the humor of the Pantos when his parents took him during the holiday season. He says, “Panto is, for many people, their first experience of live theater and it is a wild and wacky entry point into the rich and rewarding world of the performing arts.” The Puss in Boots Panto at Centerstage was just plain silly. A panto is silly personified. We love silly. We laugh at silly. We worship silly. You don’t need a formal education to understand a panto. You just sit in your seat, participate and laugh like a fool for two hours. For more information about Pantos take a look at our article about Panto basics – thesubtimes.com/2021/11/15/the-panto-is-coming-to-centerstage-with-puss-in-boots/
The pantos (pantomimes) are a descendant of the Comedia dell ‘Arte of medieval times which were traveling troops who began by giving Morality Plays, the only live actors local people would see. All of the actors were men, some impersonating a woman. The most attractive young man usually played Mary in the Nativity scene. In Britain, it originated in the working men’s clubs. The men went to the clubs to talk, brag and chide each other after a long day in the mines or factories or wherever they worked. The wives came to play weekly Bingo and the kids came at Christmas time for the pantos.
There are some rules for the pantos. There is always, ALWAYS, a man disguised as a woman. There’s a comedic figure as are all the parts.
Brad Cerenzia played Auntie Dotty, a man-hungry, middle-aged woman always on the prowl for a prospective new mate. She ogles the men in the audience as well as fellow male actors. However, Auntie Dotty is never lascivious or vulgar. In pantos, there are a few rules. 1.) There’s always, ALWAYS a man dressed or should I say almost disguised as a woman; the hero always gets the girl and there are singing, dancing and oftentimes giant puppets. He came up to the audience and asked a man his name. He purred and said, “You look like my third husband.” The audience member asks, “How many husbands have you had?” Aunty Dottie answers, “Two” and periodically gives him throughout the show. Another rule, the actors do a calisthenic number in which they line up, sing, and dance He carries much of the load in this production with his teasing and out of the blue comments. Oops, not it was his hair that was blue but some comments were almost blue. The kids didn’t get them, but we did! We wrote about actor Brad in October. See – thesubtimes.com/2021/10/26/meet-local-actor-brad-cerenzia/ for more information.
We’ve seen Jessie Selleck as the good gal or good guy in Rapunzel and Robin Hood. She did a great job in both, but this time around she plays the meanie Discordia. I think I like her better as the villain. All in black she ruled the enchanted forest and ruled all who were under her spell, almost all of the characters by nearly the end. She gloats over her fellow fairy, Fairy Amy Trueheart, played by Rachel Ruby Squires. The sweet fairy was perky and energetic and got everyone in the audience to participate.
Kaira Hensler played Puss in Boots in Puss in Boots. . . my god she’s limber. She had a smile that could win almost anyone over. She looked good in the high boots with fold over tops, as well.
My favorite cast member of this show was Taylor Davis, who played Doofus and Rufus . . . depending upon whether she wore a hood or not? I would have guessed that she was a talented and aspiring young student who dreamed of acting. That went by the wayside when she tap danced. Evidently, we had seen her in two other CenterStage productions, but she also directed the panto Rapunzel. In Puss In Boots she is a scream. We loved her in the cooking scene where she, Auntie Dottie (Brad Cerenzia) and the Marquee of Mukilteo (Joshua Jerard) are baking. Jerard announces he is going to the basement for some more flour or something and announces he will go down the stairs. He is behind the table, but we see him disappearing with steps down and then comes back up. Davis then announces she is going to the basement but taking the escalator and she slowly disappears and the then reappears via the escalator coming back up. Then Jerard goes back to the basement via the elevator and then comes back up. Not to be outdone, Davis then announces she’s going to operates the trap door. She throws the big lever for the trap door and Jerard disappears from sight. This is all mime work and very nicely done.
Davis’s character is sly, silly, alternatively sniveling and obsequious versus being strong and grand; and Davis bends like she’s made of soft plastic. She can tap dance, bend in almost impossible directions and sings like a diva. She has a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Oklahoma. She also performs, directs, and choreographs for theatres around the Seattle area.
Joshua Jerard, came up from Los Angles to play the role of Will. We had also seen him as the good guys in Robin Hood, and Rapunzel where he was Prince Caspian. In Puss in Boots he played the Marquee of Mukilteo, the young owner of his own mill, and pined for Princess Desiree (Viviana Garza), who also pined for him. As Will, he’s tall, slender, good looking and good natured. Viviana as Disiree was properly in love with him and most desirous of marrying the Marquee of Mukilteo. It’s common in pantos for local area names to pop up. We saw a Prince of Normandy Park in an early panto.
The panto was silly, got the audience involved, and scored on all elements. It was great entertainment! Once again, CenterStage is King of Dumas Bay!
CenterStage does a great job with comedies as well as serious drama. Please, visit them for more ticket information – centerstagetheatre.com/