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Christmas Panto Will Feature Local Talent


November 27, 2019

During rehearsals on Monday, November 18, Tehya Vauthier playing Madison, the giant's daughter; Ben Hall performing the character Doctor Humberdunk, Mayor Sullymange's assistant; and Tyley Hemmer acting as Rainn, the giant's magic harp, gaze and point from atop the Beanstalk as they look down on the village of Cowrumpford.

Continuing their Christmas tradition established over the past several years, Montana Actors' Theater (MAT) will be presenting, Jack and the Beanstalk, the classic tale of magic beans, a giant, and treasure this holiday season. The show, which will open on December 6 at 7:00 p.m., will be performed as a panto at the MAT on MSU-Northern's campus on Cowan Drive. And it will feature Chinook resident Ben Hall, who will be playing the elderly Doctor Humberdunk. The play will run through December 21.

Although one might suspect that a panto is a pantomime with silent characters, it is neither a mime nor silent. Introduced to the British Theatre in 1717 by John Rich, a panto is a traditional fairy tale complete with songs, dances, sometimes bawdy jokes, exaggerated characters, contemporary references, and lots of audience participation. The audience is encouraged to join in with the characters as they sing their silly songs and to boo and hiss when the villain comes onstage.

Panto is a peculiarly British tradition of winter musical comedy theater that features an assortment of stock characters and other conventions and is often called "the noisiest, rowdiest sort of theater you can attend (with the whole family) in the United Kingdom." Bringing this tradition from across the pond, MAT has been performing a Christmastime panto for four years now.

Produced by Havre Ford and written especially for the Hi-Line communities by Martin Holt, Jack and the Beanstalk takes place in the little town of Cowrumpford which is terrorized by the evil giant, Thunderbunz, and his henchman. Although the audience will recognize the traditional plot line in which Jack trades his family's cow for some valuable magic beans that his frustrated mother throws out the window and which produce a gigantic beanstalk overnight, the audience will follow Jack on his trek to find the treasure and get back home without being captured by the menacing giant who engages Jack in various dueling games.

According to MAT Marketing Director, Andi Daniel, the play has the standard panto characters: a good fairy, a bad guy, the dame played by a man, and the young leading man (hero) played by a female.

"The audience is encouraged to boo the bad guy, cheer for the hero, and yell back at the characters," Daniel said. "This isn't a 'sit quietly in your seat' kind of show and is perfect for young children and adults. While you don't have to participate, it is more fun if you do," she added.

Although Ben Hall will play Doctor Humberdunk, Mayor Sullymange's assistant, other members of the cast are – Daisy the Cow– Marlee Thivierge (head) and Carinna Kline (butt); Jack – Hannah Bricker; Dame Trott – Joshua Gomez; The Simons – Austin "Jimmy" Nelson; Fairy Florindina – Andi Daniel; Schnoz – Koby Preputin; Mayor Sullymange – Derek Eldridge; Maggie Sullymange – Jordan Raider; Molly Sullymange – Rory Beth Everingham; Dashing Dan Dinkley – Wakefield Guyant; Squire – Dever Everingham; Thunderbunz the Giant – The entire cast will contribute; Madison the Giant's Daughter – Tehya Vauthier; Rainn the Singing Harp – Tyley Hemmer; Domino the Chicken – Lena Whitford; Villagers – Marysue Davis, Emily Marsh, Presley Frost, and Finley McKeon-Hanson.

Under the direction of Grant Olson, the cast started rehearsals on October 21.

"Rehearsals have been challenging because Martin Holt is writing the script as we go and weaving in things about the community," Hall reported. "There are a lot of local references, and the cast has been a part of the script development process."

A schedule of show times is available at Tickets are also available on-line or at Fivehead's, The Computer Center, and Bear Paw Meats in Havre.


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