Entertainment

Penning pantomimes

Simone Ponne/THE NEWS Mike Roberds co-wrote Goose: The Mother of All Pantos with Jason Dedrick, Tom Saunders and Fred  Partridge He will play Wee Willy Winkie during its run at the ACT. -
Simone Ponne/THE NEWS Mike Roberds co-wrote Goose: The Mother of All Pantos with Jason Dedrick, Tom Saunders and Fred Partridge He will play Wee Willy Winkie during its run at the ACT.
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The ingredients for cooking up a juicy pantomime were not hard to find in the tales of Mother Goose.

Add a dash of Looney Tunes humour, the wit of Bob Hope and melodic harmonies of Bing Crosby to the batter and you’ll smell success.

“With those fairy tale stories you have so much to play with,” says Michael Roberds who co-wrote Goose: The Mother of All Pantos with Jason Dedrick, Tom Saunders and Fred Partridge in 1997.

“You can take them wherever you want to.”

Jack, Jill and almost every other fairytale character go on a wild goose chase to rescue Mother from an evil Giant in the pantomime, which opens in Maple Ridge tomorrow.

Roberds says the quest to write Goose began in hometown of White Rock as a dare.

“We knew we could do better.”

Traditionally performed at Christmas, pantomimes, or pantos are a popular form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, in-jokes, audience participation and mild sexual innuendo into a hilarious mix.

Plots are often loosely based on children's stories and most of time follow a set of conventions.

In pantos, the leading male character is traditionally played by a young woman. An older woman, like Mother Goose, is often a man in drag and there is a ton of audience participation, like encouraged "Booos."

Roberds says the four writers began a script for Goose with a basic plot and wove in dramatic characters.

Then Dedrick and Saunders, troubadours on the Canadian television show Robson Arms, wrote in the songs.

Jokes and tummy-aching gags were the last ingredients dropped in.

By the end, Goose had 25 speaking parts, between 15 and 20 chorus roles and more than a dozen dancers.

Roberds says Millennium Player’s have updated Goose for its run at the ACT in Maple Ridge.

When he was asked to play Jack’s sidekick, Wee Willy Winkie, it was hard to say no.

“I love the instant gratification of the stage,” said Roberds, whose recent résumé includes roles on television dramas like Painkiller Jane and CBC’s Intelligence.

Roberds says people don’t realize how much work goes into cracking up an audience.

“There’s only one way to tell a joke,” he adds. “The right way. Sometimes, though, you never know what made it funny.”

It’s the first time the veteran actor, who is best remembered as Uncle Fester from the New Addams Family, has stepped into a character from the Goose script.

Wee Willy Winkie is a completely silly, child-like character Roberds identifies with.

“There’s a lot of me in Uncle Fester and a lot of me in Willy,” he says.

“They’ve both got my sense of humour.”

• Goose: The Mother of All Pantos plays at the ACT on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and again Dec. 13-15 at 7:30 p.m. A 2 p.m. matinee plays on Saturday and Dec. 15 and Dec. 16. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and students, and $60 for a family pack. Call 604-476-ARTS or visit www.theactmapleridge.org.

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