Whistler Players back in business with Cinderella at MY Place 

By the warmth of a woodstove on rainy October nights, have you found yourself wondering whether this season your prince or princess might finally come home?

The Whistler Players might not have the answer to your longings, but they will present a "Cinderella" pantomime at Maurice Young Millennium Place next month. Lose yourself in the world of pumpkin coaches and wicked in-laws in the classic rags to riches tale, where good karma and great footwear are spread across the land.

First the Players had the time, now they have the space. Established in 1989 by Linda Marshall, a full time wedding planner, the all-ages performing arts troupe has been searching for a performance space for the last three years. While membership has been active, in recent years the quest for a venue has been a thespian search for the holy grail.

"It’s been a challenge but we’re exited, there’s so much talent in Whistler," says Marshall. "A group of people got together and said ‘let’s do it!’"

The new venue completes the missing link between performers’ enthusiasm and Whistler theatre audiences.

At last, MY Place’s theatre for hire has found an act in the British farce pantomime, which will be performed four times between Nov. 15 and 17, at the same time fulfilling its mission to provide a performing arts space for the community. With a clearly defined arena, doors open for grant applications as well.

"We haven’t felt that we could go out for funding, but now that we have the new facility this also becomes a possibility," says Marshall.

While some hotels have offered rehearsal space in the past, last minute conference bookings taking precedence over performance space meant cancelled shows. Frustrating, but understandable. Since the beginning of August, several Cinderella cast members have been able to secure rehearsal space as employees at the Westin Hotel, but lucky breaks are few and far between.

Like the energizer bunny, the popularity of the classic rags to riches tale just keeps going-and going.

"We’re already receiving calls about the performance a month in advance," notes Gilles Easdon, client services co-ordinator at MY Place. "The majority of Whistler ticket sales tend toward last minute, so it’s pretty inspirational. "

The play’s producers arrange ticket details with Ticketmaster, who in turn include the information in their own listings. Destination visitors browsing Ticketmaster will see Cinderella’s information online, reducing advertising costs that are often difficult for smaller productions to cover.

Co-producer Susan Hutchinson, whose previous work included "Busybody" at the Eagle Eye Theatre in Squamish, hopes the play "brings a cultural dimension to the Whistler community that’s been missing."

Previous to MY Place, the choices for theatre spaces were outdoor spaces like Rainbow Park or gymnasiums at schools like Myrtle Philip elementary school.

Directed by Michelle Bush and Kathy Daniels, the pantomime Cinderella uses song, Monty Python-dry humour and role reversal to tell the story of Cinderella’s dishpan hands and eventual rescue from stepsister nightmares. You can expect appearances from local faces in drag including Scott Young of the Crabshack, while Bonnie Stevenson steps into the role of Prince Charming.

"There will be a lot of interactive involvement with the audiences," adds Hutchinson, a technique that pantomime uses to create the story.

Cinderella is the result of artists and volunteer community effort. The play received support from the Westin Hotel, MY Place, the Whistler Arts Council and Pique Newsmagazine . Chasmophile contributed to wardrobe, while artist Valerie Castine showcases her work in set design. Gillie Easdon is also involved with lighting design.

Performances of Cinderella run from Nov. 15 through 17 at 7:30 p.m., with an additional matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults, $13 for children and seniors, available through Ticketmaster or at Millennium Place box office. For information call 604-935-8410.

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