In the Press

Sinbad, The Pirate and The Dinosaur [SNL]

By Tom Zillich

December 12, 2017
[ click to read at their site]

Langley’s Queen of pantomime sets sail Friday on ‘a sea of hilarity’

Langley’s Ellie King describes her newest undertaking as rollicking, comical panto.

Langley’s Ellie King, dubbed the queen of pantomime, is breathing her own wicked sense of humour and mirth into a production of Sinbad, The Pirate and The Dinosaur, which sets sail this week. The Royal Canadian Theatre Company opens this show at Surrey Arts Centre on Friday. It runs through until early January, with these uniquely crafted adventures on the high seas travelling between the Surrey venue, and other theatres in Maple Ridge and New Westminster. It’s all the creation of King, who has been writing, directing, and producing very traditional British pantos in Vancouver, and the Lower Mainland, since 1989.

In fact, the first Canadian panto this Brookswood thespian wrote and directed was Sinbad the Sailor, King recounted, noting this one is an original script specifically penned by her to be “as traditional as possible.”

“All the usuals panto suspects are present, plus a few new faces… in this fabulous, fun, musical, comical adventure on the high seas,” she said. This production marks the 59th show (not all pantos) that King will have directed since 1989, and one of many in which she has worked with her dear friend Alan Cedargreen (Vera). “He is arguably B.C.’s most popular dame,” she said, noting the 79-year-old from Willoughby is retiring after this year’s show. “He will be sorely missed not only by the company, but also his many fans,” King added.

But King and Cedargreen aren’t the only Langleyite actively participating in this upcoming production. In addition to a few other cast members, the founder of RCTC only half jokes that she’s once again dragged in her “long-suffering” but musically talented husband, Geoff. Most of the music for this year’s “extravaganza” is written by King and her hubby, she said, noting it also features two traditional sea chanties.

“Sinbad has a treasure map but no money to rent a ship or pay a crew. Enter the wicked Queen Anne Bonney who has gold to spare and wants that treasure map. The plot thickens. But Queen Anne reckoned without the Princess Serena – anything but serene – a little spitfire who is a demon with a mop,” King elaborated.

“As the ship sails towards its destination, the crazy crew deals with mutiny, icebergs, and a superfluity of bubbles – don’t ask! And tropical islands are lovely – even if they might possibly have the odd dinosaur or two lurking around…. Does it all end well? Do our heroes live happily ever after? Will the evil Old Man of the Sea ever get anyone to pull his finger?”

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Sinbad The Pirates and The Dinosaur [NWR]

By Staff Reporter

November 29, 2017
[ click to read at their site]

Holiday pantomime comes to New West

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company brings Ellie King's Sinbad, The Pirates and The Dinosaur to the Massey Theatre

Sinbad, The Pirates and The Dinosaur

Audiences can expect all the hilarity of a traditional British pantomime when Ellie King’s Sinbad, The Pirates and The Dinosaur hits the Massey Theatre stage. It’s traditional British pantomime at its rollicking, rambunctious best – and it’s coming soon to a stage near you.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company is bringing its holiday panto, Ellie King’s Sinbad, The Pirates and The Dinosaur, to the Massey Theatre stage. The play tells the tale of Sinbad, who has a treasure map but no money to rent a ship or pay a crew. Enter the wicked Queen Anne Bonney, who has gold to spare and wants that treasure map. But the Queen has reckoned without Princess Serena, the anything-but-serene little spitfire.

“As the ship sails towards its destination, the crazy crew deals with mutiny, icebergs and a superfluity of bubbles,” a press release says. “And tropical islands are lovely, even if they might possibly have the odd dinosaur or two lurking around. … Does it all end well? Do our heroes live happily ever after? Will the evil Old Man of the Sea ever get anyone to pull his finger?”

Audiences can expect the fun to unfold in the truest British tradition, with the pantomime Dame, slapstick, music, dance, magic and a collection of corny old jokes.

It’s an original script by King, the artistic director of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company who was previously the founding artistic director of the former Burr Theatre in New Westminster. The music for the production was written by King and her husband, musician Geoff King.

The show starts its run at the Surrey Arts Centre, where it’s in preview Dec. 14 and onstage from Dec. 15 to 26. Its Surrey run includes a special “relaxed performance” on Dec. 21, designed to be sensitive to the needs of audience members with sensory conditions, those on the autism spectrum or others who can benefit from a less intense and more relaxed environment. It then moves to the ACT Theatre in Maple Ridge Dec. 29 to 31, before coming to New Westminster to end its run. The Jan. 5 show is a dress preview at 7:30 p.m. and the Jan. 6 show is a 3:30 p.m. matinee.

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Sinbad, The Pirate and The Dinosaur [NWR]

By Staff Reporter

November 29, 2017
[ click to read at their site]

Holiday pantomime comes to New West

Royal Canadian Theatre Company brings Ellie King's Sinbad, The Pirates and The Dinosaur to the Massey Theatre

It’s traditional British pantomime at its rollicking, rambunctious best – and it’s coming soon to a stage near you. The Royal Canadian Theatre Company is bringing its holiday panto, Ellie King’s Sinbad, The Pirates and The Dinosaur, to the Massey Theatre stage on Jan. 5 and 6. The play tells the tale of Sinbad, who has a treasure map but no money to rent a ship or pay a crew. Enter the wicked Queen Anne Bonney, who has gold to spare and wants that treasure map. But the Queen has reckoned without Princess Serena, the anything-but-serene little spitfire.

“As the ship sails towards its destination, the crazy crew deals with mutiny, icebergs and a superfluity of bubbles,” a press release says. “And tropical islands are lovely, even if they might possibly have the odd dinosaur or two lurking around. … Does it all end well? Do our heroes live happily ever after? Will the evil Old Man of the Sea ever get anyone to pull his finger?”

Audiences can expect the fun to unfold in the truest British tradition, with the pantomime Dame, slapstick, music, dance, magic and a collection of corny old jokes. It’s an original script by King, the artistic director of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company who was previously the founding artistic director of the former Burr Theatre in New Westminster. The music for the production was written by King and her husband, musician Geoff King.

The show starts its run at the Surrey Arts Centre, where it’s in preview Dec. 14 and onstage from Dec. 15 to 26. Its Surrey run includes a special “relaxed performance” on Dec. 21, designed to be sensitive to the needs of audience members with sensory conditions, those on the autism spectrum or others who can benefit from a less intense and more relaxed environment. It then moves to the ACT Theatre in Maple Ridge Dec. 29 to 31, before coming to New Westminster to end its run.

More Press:

Photos included, if any, originally supplied by The Royal Canadian Theatre Company unless credited to the specific publication.

Articles quoted with full attribution under fair use doctrine. The link to the original publication may be deleted by the original publisher. This is beyond the control of RCTC.

Photo Credit:
RCTC

Sinbad, The Pirate and The Dinosaur [PAN]

By Tom Zillich

November 15, 2017
[ click to read at their site]

‘Relaxed performance’ of panto a first for Surrey, theatre company says

Special night Dec. 21 for staging of ‘Sinbad, the Pirate and the Dinosaur’

SURREY — A so-called “relaxed” performance of a theatre production comes to Surrey Arts Centre next month when Royal Canadian Theatre Company stages its seasonal panto there.

The show on Thursday, Dec. 21 is designed for those with intellectual, learning and other sensory and communication disorders, according to Ellie King, who wrote Sinbad, the Pirate and the Dinosaur and is the Surrey-based company’s managing artistic director.

King, a Langley resident, says it’s sometimes difficult to strike a balance between making live theatre accessible to all, and yet still be sensitive to the issue of potentially disturbing other audience members. “This unfortunately often results in some members of our community not being able to attend live theatre,” she says. A “relaxed performance” – sometimes called “sensory friendly performances” or “extra live” performances – “is intended specifically to be sensitive to, and accepting of audience members who may benefit from a more relaxed environment, including (but not limited to) those with autistic spectrum conditions, anyone with sensory and communication disorders or learning disabled people,” according to a post on the company’s website.

That means sound and lighting cues are adjusted to be less startling or intense, she said. Exiting and entering the auditorium is allowed at any time, auditorium lights are never fully turned off, and the cast comes on stage before the performance to explain what’s about to happen. Also, audience noise, movement and even the use of phones or other “fidget devices” are tolerated.

“Since being pioneered by Polka Theatre, a children’s theatre in London, in 2009, relaxed performances have spread around Britain and to the United States, and are now arriving in Canada,” King said. “We are bringing the first ever Relaxed Performance outside of Vancouver to the Surrey Arts Centre during the run of Sinbad,” she added. “RCTC, partnering with the City of Surrey, is proud to lead the way in Surrey with this wonderful initiative and is hoping to expand the programme for their next season, 2018/19.” Surrey Arts Centre has plenty of parking and is highly wheelchair accessible, King noted.

The company describes Sinbad, the Pirate and the Dinosaur as “a rollicking adventure on the high seas with pirates, treasure, dinosaurs, the Queen of the Pirates, an annoying princess, battles and all your panto favourites. Magical, musical, full of corny old jokes – perfect family fun!”

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RCTC

Hound of the Baskervilles [NWR]

By Staff Reporter

October 5, 2017
[ click to read at their site]

Hound of the Baskervilles onstage in New West

A comedic take on a Sherlock Holmes classic is coming to the stage at the Anvil Centre

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company is opening its 2017/18 season with The Hound of the Baskervilles, which will come to New West as part of a Lower Mainland Tour this month. The Anvil Centre shows are set for Oct. 20 and 21.

The play, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic, tells the familiar story of what happens following the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. The only heir to his fortune is Sir Henry Baskerville, who is in mortal danger: a black beast in the shape of a monstrous dog has been seen on the moor, and, according to a family curse, it will kill any member of the Baskerville family it happens upon.

“Dr. Watson meets many interesting – and odd – characters during the course of his investigations, including the butler and his wife, the beautiful Cecile, her ominous brother Stapleton, and a strange local hermit. Or is he? And where is Holmes?” Enter Sherlock Holmes (played by Michael Charrois) and Dr. Watson (Steven Weller) to solve the mystery. They’re joined by Jonathan Mason as Sir Henry in what’s described as a “fast-paced and uproariously comic” version of the famous story.

Having the production onstage at Anvil Centre marks a homecoming of sorts for The Royal Canadian Theatre Company, which has its roots in the former Raymond Burr Performing Arts Centre. The Burr Theatre, which closed in 2005, was led by founding artistic director Ellie King, who is now at the helm of The Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

King will be bringing three plays to New Westminster in the 2017/18 season, including the panto Sinbad, The Pirates and the Island of the Dinosaur at Massey Theatre in January, and the comedy Funny Money at the Anvil Centre in March.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is onstage Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.

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Take a look inside our new Studio

 

Mattias Boon, founder and director of StreetRich Hip Hop Society, speaks to crowd Tuesday at Whalley’s new arts hub, at 10660 City Parkway, with Ellie King of Royal Canadian Theatre Company to his right. (photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey Now-Leader
Hip-hop, theatre groups move into former auto shop in Whalley, under City Parkway Studio banner

SURREY — A former auto garage in Whalley is motoring forward with a mix of theatre, dance and music for kids, teens and young adults.
An opening celebration was held Tuesday (June 20) at Surrey’s newest arts hub, a youth-focused space at 10660 City Parkway, across the street from both the B.C. Lions’ training facility and Chuck Bailey rec centre.
The Now-Leader has learned the site, to be operated by Royal Canadian Theatre Company and StreetRich Hip Hop Society in partnership with the City of Surrey, will be known as City Parkway Studio, subject to city council approval.
“I’m excited to see what this unique partnership will foster in the coming years,” Councillor Judy Villeneuve told invited guests at the studio.
READ MORE >

‘Opening Night’ – Norm Foster comedy [SNL]

By Melanie Minty

March 16, 2017
[ click to read at their site]

MINTY: ‘Opening Night’ for Norm Foster comedy at Surrey Arts Centre on Friday

Ellie King and Royal Canadian company bring show to stage

SURREY — Royal Canadian Theatre Company is ready to roll with the last production of their season – and ready to move into a new home location. The life force of RCTC is Ellie King. She has put her heart, mind and soul into the creation of this company, and probably her life savings as well. I do admire her unflagging enthusiasm and dedication to the project.

Now celebrating 10 years of operation, RCTC has more solid financial footing, a new home and a growing fan base. It is only fitting that this end-of-season production, the comedy “Opening Night,” is by Canada’s favourite playwright, Norm Foster. Fitting because, like, it is Canada’s 150th birthday. Canadian plays by Canadian playwrights are the featured focus this year. And really, when your name has “Canadian” in it, you do have to look at Canadian content.

Sometime I will tell you the hilarious story of how the name Royal Canadian Theatre Company was selected. King tells a good story and it’s pure entertainment itself. Our coffee meetings consist of a hot fudge sundae at a fast-food location. Yep, that’s coffee! But on with the play, one you definitely do not want to miss. At Surrey Arts Centre, “Opening Night” hits the stage on Friday and Saturday. I don’t know how you cannot be jumping up right now, at this very moment, to buy a ticket. A Norm Foster play, directed by Ellie King at the Surrey Arts Centre.

“Opening Night” is the story of an unusual evening at the theatre. Ruth Tisdale has lucked into a pair of tickets to the opening-night performance of a new Canadian play, and she drags her husband Jack to the theatre as a way to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Jack, however, would rather be at home watching the seventh game of the World Series on TV. Jack and Ruth are in the VIP lounge mingling with invited guests before the show when Jack spots someone he recognizes from TV. Hilarity follows, reaching its peak when we finally witness the “performance” of what must be one of the worst plays ever written.

Ladies, how many of you have “dragged” your male spouse or male partner to a performing arts event? This plot line speaks to all of us. Forget the World Series – PVR exists. A live performance happens only once. So maybe getting a sports fan out to a live theatre show is a bit easier than convincing same male to attend an opera. It’s all our fault, of course. We are not exposed to the arts at an early age, and discard things like opera as “fluff.”

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RCTC

In Guildford, an ‘Oscars’ party with a purpose [SNL]

By Gord Goble

March 10, 2016
[ click to read at their site]

Guildford an Oscars Party With a Purpose

Royal Canadian Theatre Company holds fun fundraiser

Stephen Elcheshen, Kerri Norris, Linda McCrossin, Shara Nixon, James King and Ellie King have fun with the big golden “Oscar” at Royal Canadian Theatre Company fundraiser

GUILDFORD — On the final Sunday night of February, the stars came out for the Academy Awards in Hollywood. But there was one humongous Oscars statue here in Surrey, too. It stood – all seven golden feet of it – on a red carpet at the entrance to the Fraser Room at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel. And soon they came – to stroll that red carpet, to pose with jumbo Oscar, to partake in champagne and finger foods while watching the Hollywood-focused big screens and, of course, to see and to be seen.

In attendance were Surrey Arts Council’s Carol Girardi, Sources CEO David Young, entrepreneur/musician Chris Thornley (proudly flaunting a mini-Oscar of his own) and Coun. Vera LeFranc (wearing a to-die-for strapless number).

And let’s not forget the costumes. Surrey Christmas Bureau boss KC Gilroy came dressed as Bette Davis, Sylvia Taylor as Jayne Mansfield. At least a couple of Indiana Joneses were in the room. The Vaudevillians were in their sharpest 1920s “Flappers” attire.

And it was a party with a purpose: To raise money for The Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s mentorship program. “Every year, we run a mentorship program that culminates in our Christmas show at the Surrey Arts Centre,” Ellie King, founder and artistic director of the theatre company, said between greeting guests.
We bring kids in from any background, any ethnicity – come one, come all. All we ask from them is a modicum of talent and commitment, and a willingness to be part of a team. “We teach them singing, acting and dancing,” King added. “We make all the costumes, we rent the space for them to perform, we rent the space for them to rehearse. We have the stagecraft side, the technical side, everything. They get a full professional experience.”

But there’s more to it than that. Actor Stephen Elcheshen talked about the time a decade ago when the company wanted to cast both he and partner Kerri Norris, now also a top-billed regular with the theatre company, in the same production. One problem: They had a brand new baby. “But Ellie told us to bring her along. So that’s what we did, to each rehearsal and each performance,” Elcheshen recalled. “Our daughters are now 10 and seven,” Norris added. “They have such confidence and have made such great friends, and they kind of have a place to call home. We love that spirit of family that inhabits the company.” And that, at its heart, is what the RCTC is all about – theatre, sure, but a sense of family and a little guidance, too.

“Five years ago when I started, I was small and shy,” said Kai Glass of North Delta, now an RCTC veteran at the age of 11. “And now I have confidence. I can sing loud now. I’ve learned a lot from them, like how to interact with an audience. And I’ve made a lot of friends.” Ten-year-old Raychel Taylor of Cloverdale said she “learned how to react to events on the stage. I learned dancing and choreography. I danced in the main numbers. It was really fun. I met a bunch of nice people.”

Rachel’s mom, meanwhile, is amazed how this little girl, so shy when she auditioned, can now sing and dance comfortably in front of a large crowd. But here’s the thing: The RCTC doesn’t charge for its mentorship program – not a penny. And that’s precisely why events the company’s Oscars shindig, which included a 50/50 draw and silent auction, are so critical. This was the first time Royal Canadian’s annual Oscars event was held at the Sheraton, and King loved the ambiance the revamped hotel delivered. She’s thinking of doing a costume-themed party this year at Halloween as well, as another fundraiser. And of course, she said, donations are always welcome. If you’d like to help support the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s mentorship program, either with a one-time donation, as a sponsor, or as a member of the society – and score yourself a charitable tax receipt while you’re at it.

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Gord Goble

Beauty and the Beast in Bavaria [MRN]

By Colleen Flanagan

December 22, 2016
[ click to read at their site]

Beauty and the Beast in Bavaria

Traditional British pantomime will feature original music and script

Anita Brusch (Jennifer Campbell) kicks it up with Const. Hanz (Mark Manning, left) and Const. Footz (Danni Bergeron) during a performance of Ellie King's Beauty and the Beast.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company will be putting on the Christmas pantomime Beauty and the Beast at the ACT in Maple Ridge. Written by Ellie King, the pantomime will be closer to the original fairy story by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve that was published in 1740.

“It’s a traditional British panto with an original script. I write them every year. It also features original music. My husband and I, he composes and I do lyrics,” said King, whose husband is also the director. King’s story is set in the fictional town of Licketysplitz, Bavaria and tells the tale of a local merchant named Herr Brush and his two lovely daughters. When a shipment of goods fails to arrive for his store he is left destitute with nowhere to turn. In order to rescue her family from poverty, his youngest daughter, Isabella, becomes the only companion to a hideous beast in an old and lonely castle. Who will save her?

King strongly adheres to the true British pantomime tradition where there is are good guys and bad guys that battle over the fate of a protagonist who has to go on a journey filled with obstacles. Pantomimes are often based on fairy stories and legends. “It’s cultural thing. It’s a piece of theatrical history that’s 400-years-old and the elements of it go back way farther than that,” she said adding that it is a form of art she believes is worth preserving. “A lot of people think pantomime means without words and it doesn’t. A British panto is the exact opposite, it’s very noisy and it’s full of music,” explained King. Audience participation is always encouraged. “We encourage the audience to boo and to cheer and to join in. For the kids it’s huge for them. They don’t have to just sit there. They are an integral part of the whole performance,” said King. Every year she incorporates a gag into the production that would have been used in the 19 century pantomimes.

This year the gag is called The Somewhere Else gag where the comedic characters have to get each other to prove that they are not really there, that they are, in fact, somewhere else. The cast of 30 will be dressed in lederhosen and dirndl’s. “And our dame he’s actually 79-years-old this year and he dances around the stage like he is a two-year-old,” chuckled King, clarifying that the Dame in a traditional panto is not a drag act. “It’s a man in a dress. It’s very different. I’ve had men with beards and mustaches. There is a lot of theatrical history,” she said.

This is the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s mentorship showcase. The theatre company offers free mentorship opportunities to people of all ages in the communities that they perform in. “We especially welcome children and youth,” said King. Auditions were held in June and then participants were taught the basics of singing, dancing, acting and stagecraft. “We make all their costumes, we rent all the spaces, we teach them good theatrical practice,” said King. “And at the end of it they get to perform on stage alongside the professionals and it doesn’t cost them a penny,” she continued. Needless to say King’s panto will have a happy ending on a journey that will include Bavarian music and dance numbers, corny jokes, special effects and spectacular costumes.

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RCTC

Beauty and the Beast article [TVS]

By Shawn Conner

December 14, 2016
[ click to read at their site]

Beauty and the Beast panto offers tradition, and a hint of the modern

Sleeping Beauty

Ellie King’s Beauty and the Beast

The panto fever that has hit Vancouver in recent years continues. This holiday season, no fewer than three versions of the traditional British entertainments are playing in Metro Vancouver. One of these is The Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

Certain conditions apply, however, before something can be considered an authentic, British panto. “Real British panto holds within it the old method of breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience, inviting audience interaction,” said Ellie King, artistic director of the Surrey company, as well as writer/director of the upcoming production.

A panto also needs a pair of lovers, and “a villain who wants to prevent them from getting together,” King said. “You have the hero or heroine who has to undertake both a spiritual and very often a physical journey, from a position of poverty to a position of gain. On the way, harking back to medieval morality plays, you have forces of evil and good fighting over the destiny of the protagonist.” In the tale, a young woman volunteers to help her destitute merchant father by working at the castle of the hideous Beast. Similarities to what is probably the best-known version of the story, Disney’s 1991 animated film, end there, more or less. Instead, King draws on the 18th-century tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Challenges in adapting the story to the panto form included fitting everything into a digestible length. We work very hard to bring our plays in under two hours,” she said. This is done both for the sake of the younger audience members, as well as adults with attention spans not adapted to three to four hours, the lengths to which pantos could run a century ago.

Besides story motifs, pantos have stock roles. For King’s Beauty and the Beast, the Idle Jack — whose role is to interact with the kids in the audience — is played by Stephen Elcheshen. Alan Cedargreen plays the Dame (here, named Frau Schackenbacken), a panto role traditionally performed by a man in a dress — though “it’s not a drag act,” said King. “It’s very different.” Like King, Cedargreen grew up in England knowing panto. “There’s a style of playing real panto that you need to know, I can’t put it into words — it’s an intangible. And he has that,” said King.

The main villain is played by Kerri Norris who, like Cedargreen, is a longtime player with the Royal Canadian Theatre Company. Norris is also the company’s costumer. Good and evil are represented by the fairy and the demon. “They’re the motivators,” King said. This year the demon is her son, James King; the fairy queen is played by Jacqueline Koenig. Crystal Weltzin plays the Beauty, Isabella. Jacqueline Bruce plays the Beast, who fills the panto role of Principal Boy, representing the personification of pure romantic love. In a tradition dating to the 18th century, Bruce wears tights — fishnet — and high heels. “Instead of a monstrous beast, we’re using a very stylized, elegant beast,” King said.

The panto begins with a prologue to explain how the Beast came to be the Beast — while hunting in the forest, he is very rude to a witch, who causes the transformation. “So he kind of looks like a stag that he might have been hunting. I really like that idea — it’s very elegant, but still not human.” Along with fairy-tale elements, this Beauty and the Beast contains references to contemporary events. “That tradition dates from the turn of the 19th into the 20th century, when a lot of East End of London musical turns were invited to come and join panto,” King said. “They used it as a platform to air their social ills and grievances. We do that too, though we’re not as serious about it. Obviously, Trump is in there. We try to be even-handed and hit on all major parties equally, but there are some targets you’ve just got to hit.”

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RCTC