Theatre Replacement
East Van Panto: Beauty and the Beast

When & Where November 22, 2023 - January 7, 2024 | York Theatre (The Cultch), 639 Commercial Dr. Vancouver. Visit the Cultch’s website for more details and to purchase tickets here.

Playwrights Jivesh Parasram and Christine Quintana Director Anita Rochon Assistant Director Howard Dai Composer/Musical Director Veda Hille Stage Manager Emma Hammond Assistant Stage Manager Jenny Kim Producers Daniel O’Shea & Andrew McCaw Choreographer Amanda Testini Costume Designer Alaia Hamer. Cast and additional credits can be viewed here.

Reviewer Darren Cordeiro

It was a “tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme”, curated as a pantomime. And, it was magical!

Presenting the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, the opening night guests were in for a delightful holiday treat as part of the East Van Panto, an annual tradition loved by the local arts community. For those who don’t know what Panto is, it is based on the pantomime concept where a fairy tale is personalized to our beautiful city of Vancouver with a Holidays twist.

When a pretentious “yuppy” travels from the prestigious West Vancouver district to the artsy East Vancouver community, his elitist views cause a spell to be placed upon him transforming him into a mattress and those that surround him into other objects like the classic tale. Enters Belle, she is the sole one who can break the spell and save the East Van community if she can only manage to truly become his friend. Coupled with cute East Van references of local establishments like Fujiya and Mr. Mattress, the plot truly becomes personalized to those who live and breathe the uniqueness and vibrancy of East Vancouver daily.

Attending the past three Pantos as a comparison, I was not disappointed with the intricate costume and set design. The set was as colourful as the crowd and the costumes were well thought out such as Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast being represented as a Miso Potts in the form of a soup bowl.

The acting was top-notch and as typical of the Panto tradition, the cast kept the audience’s engagement by interacting with us through their dialogue, such as shouting back “Look behind you!” or “No, no, no” when a villain did something naughty.

The choreography was at a professional level with customized lyrics to popular songs created for the soundtrack. Looking around the room, I could see the energy throughout the audience was electric as the live musicians, along with the soundtrack and dancing, brought the experience to a heightened level.

It was heartwarming to see the diversity of ethnicities and ages represented throughout the cast, especially the skunks played by local children. It truly represented the inclusiveness that we pride ourselves as residents of East Vancouver.

For ‘newbies’ and Panto veterans, this is a holiday tradition you don’t want to miss!

© 2023 Darren Cordeiro
Photo credits Emily Cooper