By Tom Zillich

December 12, 2017
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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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