Central Alberta Theatre offers up unique holiday treat

Troupe presents ‘family-friendly musical comedy’ for Christmas

Central Alberta Theatre is presenting a thoroughly original production to light up the holiday season.

Cinderella Dances with the Stars opens Dec. 13 at the Memorial Centre with performances through to Dec. 21. Curtain for evening shows is at 7 p.m. with matinees set for Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21 at 1 p.m.

CAT marks the final month of Red Deer’s centennial year by staging its first ever English style panto production Cinderella Dances with the Stars, which organizers promise will create an uproar with audiences.

Written and directed by Albert Azzara, this three-act ‘larger-than-life farcical musical comedy will engage children of all ages with its traditional blend of slapstick, topical and corny jokes, pantomime horses and dastardly villains, men playing ugly women and lots of songs and dance.’

“There’s a big dance-off. Cinderella dances with the stars in this version, and the prince has to marry a suitable dancing princess.” But a pair of villains try to mess with the process. Needless to say, the show is packed with all kinds of colourful, vibrant characters, there are lots of different styles of music utilized throughout and there is plenty of audience involvement too.

“The royal family is a family of dancers,” he said. “And we have our fairy godmother, Betty White, who works for Canada Post and is 230 years old. We also have a few guest stars appearing as well.

“Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harmonica, also appears.”

Ultimately, it’s been described as a modern day version of the classic love story crammed with songs, dances and hilarious references to Red Deer’s landmarks, people, businesses and popular culture. Another huge plus is Red Deer’s own Olivia Smith – who has been blessed with an amazing voice – landed the title role.

The ‘panto’ is an Anglo-Italian Christmas tradition, proved popular not only in the UK but Australia, South Africa and the U.S. where one New York production once ran for 1,200 performances. Panto has also not been performed previously in Red Deer, but is well-loved elsewhere in Canada.

Azzara, a retired teacher who penned the show last summer, also said the production has been designed for families. The entire production is clearly testament to his rich and incredibly creative abilities. Originally from Lethbridge, he acted in many pantos during his years there as well. And he’s already at work on another panto project for next year.

“I’ve been a writer for many years, and I’ve written lots of children’s plays too.”

He also said that CAT is fortunate to count among its members many experienced panto aficionados who have been working for the last 12 months to prepare a Cinderella production based in ‘Royal Red Deer’.

And he’s grateful for the reams of community support he’s had in pulling the production together. That includes the folks at CAT of course who’ve been working so hard to bring the project to fruition, he said.

And amidst the non-stop action and flat-out fun that will unfold onstage, there is a prominent message.

“It’s all about being yourself and being happy with who you are. Do your best, because that’s all you can do.”

For tickets, visit www.blackknightinn.ca or call 403-755-6626.


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