Cloverdale actor tackles Crusoe Panto

Michelle Gaetz.

It takes talent and timing to pull off five different chorus roles in a single stage production.

Fortunately for fans of British-style pantomime, Cloverdale’s Michelle Gaetz has both.

For the third year in a row, she’s appearing in White Rock Players’ Christmas panto, a wacky version of Robinson Crusoe, literature’s ultimate shipwreck survivor.

In panto, the chorus is no mere backdrop – it’s a centrepiece of the production. Chorus actors sing, joke and interact with the story’s main characters.

Pantos are a traditional holiday offering the whole family will enjoy, blending acting, music, song and dance with broad, slapstick comedy.

It’s tantalizing turf for an actor, but surprisingly, Gaetz never wanted

to go the community theatre route. She has always set her sights on film and television.

But three years ago, she auditioned for the popular holiday panto – on a dare – and won the role of Princess Alice in Puss in Boots.

The stage experience fanned the flames, turning a love of acting into a full-blown passion for her craft. She set out to take acting classes, branching out into film and TV clinics at Chameleon Studios with White Rock’s Wendy Bollard. It was the push Gaetz needed to take her craft more seriously.

More recently, she’s been working with a Vancouver-based, private acting coach.

Unfortunately, her dream of working at Disneyland has hit a wee snag (no U.S. work visa) and her hope of landing auditions south of the border is so far proving elusive.

But the determined Gaetz isn’t fazed; she’s just getting on with it.

The task awaiting her in Robinson Crusoe might seem daunting; she’s playing five

different chorus characters, a job that requires multiple, lightning-quick costume changes.

“It’s a tight squeeze between entrances, but that’s what makes the show that much more exciting,” she says. “It keeps me on my toes.”

Gaetz can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction to this year’s show, presented at Coast Capital Playhouse. It lampoons the story of Crusoe’s voyage through the Seven Seas and adventures that follow after the crew’s shipwrecked on Cannibal island.

Directed by Katherine Bethell, the production boasts a top flight creative team that’s breathing new life into an annual event now in its 56th year, making it Canada’s longest-running community Christmas pantomime.

The set is inspired by illustrations in a children’s book. The music is a medley of classic tunes to sing and dance along to. And it’s a pantomime, so there’s the usual dames in drag, vile villains and cheesy laughs.

Robinson Crusoe, by Charlotte Johnston and adapted by The Charlottans, runs Wednesdays through Saturdays from Nov. 26 to Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. Visit whiterockplayers.ca.

Just Posted

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Easter ‘eggstravaganza’ event planned for South Surrey

Event is to run from 12-3 p.m. at Dufferin Park (17355 2 Ave.).

Surrey resident says proposed apartment building is a ‘monstrosity’ in Whalley neighbourhood

Philip Galbraith says he voted for Safe Surrey Coalition to ‘slow down development’

Update: Surrey Mounties found missing man

Kuldip Sandhu, 41, had been reported missing

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Multiple people injured after deck collapses during celebration

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Rats available for adoption in Vancouver

In a social media post the City of Vancouver says you can adopt a rat for $5.

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Crews battle Burnaby blaze; 2 people sent to hospital

Emergency Support Services helping residents displaced by fire

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Most Read