PORT ANGELES — PA Panto is back. The theater group, which is the creative brainchild of writer Shannon Cosgrove and co-producer and director Naomi Alstrup, is entering its fifth year, though according to Cosgrove two of them don’t count.
“COVID killed two full years of live performing, and to say that we are raring to go would be a massive understatement,” she said.
PA Panto is presenting this year’s show, “Goldilocks and the Ultimate Rampage,” in collaboration with the Juan de Fuca Foundation of the Arts and the Peninsula College Drama Department.
Auditions for the production are happening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Little Theater at Peninsula College’s Port Angeles campus at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Show dates and times are Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. Performances will be held in the Little Theater.
There will be a special free performance for Peninsula College on Dec. 7, and a fundraiser for the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 8, which will feature some of the songs that appear in the show.
Tickets are on sale now at jffa.org and are $25 for adults 18 and older and $5 for those 17 and younger.
PA Panto, based loosely on the British pantomime tradition of taking a traditional fairy tale and fracturing it beyond recognition, delights in rewritten lyrics to recognizable pop songs, adding jokes for adults and spectacle for children in a mishmash of family entertainment that one audience member called “irrepressible, non-stop mayhem.”
Cosgrove said she still isn’t sure if that was a compliment but is choosing to take it that way.
The mayhem in this style of theater is in the fact that audience participation is encouraged, within reason, Cosgrove said. Candy is handed out to children throughout the show, and actors often come out into the audience.
Maintaining control is up to the actors, many of whom are working with improv for the first time.
Cosgrove said she delights in challenging actors of all ages to trust themselves.
“We have so many secret weapons,” she said. “I write for my actors, and I refuse to create stock characters. If they’re going to take the time to show up to rehearsals and work as hard as they do, I want them to shine in their own right, and we hone the dialogue for the first month of rehearsals. Actors have input, and if they can come up with something that works, or a funny bit, we add it. Watching them enjoy all they put into the show is what makes me want to keep doing it.”
She credits her creative partner, Alstrup, with being the ultimate not-so-secret weapon.
“Naomi’s background is in dance, and her choreography is a Fosse-inspired dream,” Cosgrove said. “She tells a story through movement, and every dancer shines because of her attention.
PA Panto was created as a love letter from Cosgrove and Alstrup to their chosen community, and they are especially eager for this year’s offering, say the twosome.
“We’ve been locked down and locked up for so long, and we just want to get back to entertaining the people who kept us going during an awful time,” Alstrup said.
For more information about auditions, see https://papanto.net.