Making pantomime dreams come true

Making pantomime dreams come true
Mark Garvin for People’s Light

People’s Light theatre in Malvern, PA has been a home for family-friendly pantomime shows for more than a decade. Their production of “Sleeping Beauty: A Musical Panto” features some of the familiar characters with many plot twists and a lot more electric guitar.

The young princess Aurora is cursed as a baby by wicked stepmother Chanteuse. If she pricks her finger on anything sharp (such as a record needle), she will fall in to a deep sleep for 100 years unless she receives a kiss from her true love. Aurora’s father bans all record players from their land, which has prospered from a successful music industry.

Recent University of the Arts graduate and actor Ariana Sepúlveda plays the young princess, who may be the most surprising character in the show. She has far more of a speaking role than in the Disney movie where the princess only had 16 lines. At the beginning of the story, she is unaware of her royal status.

“She has a lot more to do in this version,” said Sepúlveda. “She’s fiery, bright and determined. She’s obsessed with outer space, which adds to her wanderlust.”

A storytelling style of a pantomime also incorporates an acting role for the audience. The Resident Dame of the Pantomimes, Mark Lazar, encourages the audience to cheer, boo and get involved during various parts of the show, playing the role of good fairy godmother Mama C, the mother figure in the story.

Although audience involvement is encouraged, People’s Light will be doing a couple of shows where all the action and audience involvement are toned down. Their matinee performance on closing day Jan. 15 will be a “relaxed performance” that will have less sensory triggers than a normal show. People’s Light includes these special performances to make theater more inclusive for audience members who are autistic or have other special needs.

“The audience is a cast member,” said Sepúlveda. “We have to be a little bit more alert, and certain actors are a little less scary. Instead of being on our toes, we can rock back on our heels to get in to the performance.”

Sleeping Beauty: A Musical Panto runs until Jan. 15. The special relaxed performance is on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $41-$89.34.

If you go:
People’s Light Theater
39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern
(610) 644-3500