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

Just Posted

Pedestrian in critical condition after South Surrey crash identified

RCMP said they have been in contact with the woman’s family

Tourism report gives White Rock high marks

Surveys indicate parking, walkability and restaurants are priorities for visitors

Beach House Theatre auditioning for 2018 season

Summer lineup a Neil Simon farce and an ‘electric’ adventure for children

Finding Success: It’s not Delta’s students, it’s the system

The Delta School District is re-examining what it can do to support its Indigenous students

Rhythmic gymnasts set for competition at Cloverdale Fairgrounds this weekend

Elegant, artistic sport a great way to build self-confidence, says coach

VIDEO: Climber ‘catches the sunrise’ over city atop B.C. crane

Police warn ‘rooftopping’ poses risk to climber, public and first responders

VIDEO: ‘Big time disappointment’ as Vancouver Giants fall to undermanned Kelowna Rockets

Head coach Jason McKee very unhappy with effort in Giants’ regular season home finale

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Delta South MLA calls high-speed rail study a ‘crazy announcement’

‘You’d be better off to move to Seattle’ than to travel to Vancouver from the Lower Mainland

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

Most Read