Tree House Youth Theatre director Matt Gould has opted for something a little bit different for this year’s holiday offering.
His talented troupe, numbering 27 for this show, is putting the finishing touches on For the Love of Three Oranges, set to run Dec. 1-3 and Dec. 8-10 at the Scott Block Theatre. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.
As is typical with Tree House, audiences are in for a delightfully unique theatrical treat. Styled after a ‘British pantomime,’ it’s not your conventional Christmas-themed theatrical story, and Gould wouldn’t really want it any other way.
“This is a completely brand new Tree House presentation,” he explains.
Based on an Italian folk tale, the story takes place in the mythical land of Albertistan and centres around the plight of Princess Elizabeth Tiramisu Ravioli Jones as she and her companions work to defeat the witch Fata Morgana. They’re also on a mission to rescue Prince Arturo Benedetto Filipe Eduardo from his prison inside a giant orange.
Will there be a ‘happily ever after’ or will “The citizens of Albertistan end up in a marmalade?”
Gould has been guiding his cast through the paces of putting the production together since last summer, and he’s excited about sharing the fun with audiences. There’s no obstacle to his imaginative vision.
“It’s a funny tale. And to defeat the ogre who is guarding the oranges, they have to take an oil can, a baguette and a ribbon.” Not more details on just how these items will do the trick, but suffice it to say it’s a hysterical journey all the way through.
The origins of British Pantomime probably date back to the Middle Ages.
“It’s a large-scale theatrical comedy usually based on a folk tale, and I’ve wanted to do a British styled pantomime for a while,” says Gould. “What we’ve done is take some of the British pantomime traditions like having men play the Queen, having the audience interact with our characters and having funny creatures taking fairy tales and turning them upside down.”
Interestingly, one of the things about Christmas pantomimes is that they are never about Christmas, he adds. Although a couple of obscure Christmas tunes will be mimed in front of the curtains before the second and third acts.
“I think it’s a great, ridiculous mix of all this energy. And I like the fact it’s a bit of a break from traditional Christmas fare.”
Tree House Youth Theatre was created in 1988 and was the brainchild of Richard O’Brien who was head of the Theatre Arts Program at Red Deer College. The aim of the program was to build theatrical interest and foster skills in the young people of Central Alberta. Tree House Productions ran during the College’s off-season using RDC theatre staff and students to support most elements of the production.
When O’Brien left both Red Deer College and Tree House, the organization moved into a new partnership with Central Alberta Theatre (CAT). Gould, an accomplished and multi-talented artist in his own right, came onboard in 2005.
Next up is a production of Sleeping Beauty which runs over the last weekend of May and the first weekend of June at the Scott Block.
Meanwhile, tickets for For the Love of Three Oranges are available by calling 403-347-0800 or online at www.ticketcentraloutlet.ca.
Check out www.treehouseyouththeatre.ca.