THEATER REVIEW: “The Elves & the Shoemaker” Panto @ Ghent Playhouse [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Gail M. Burns
After two years of good-but-not-great Panto productions, the Pantoloons at the Ghent Playhouse have regained their mojo and are currently tearing up the stage with a hum-dinger of a holiday treat. The Elves & the Shoemaker is funny, timely and colorful. The script and songs, concocted by director Cathy Lee-Visscher and the Loons, make the best use of each performer’s unique talents. The only times I stopped smiling was when I was laughing out loud, booing the villain or groaning at one of the seemingly endless supply of bad shoe jokes scattered throughout the show.
Quick refresher for those who don’t know what a Panto is: It is a British theatrical tradition for the holiday season. Basically you take a familiar fairy tale or folk tale, have all the men play the women and the women play the men, add lots of new and (hopefully) witty lyrics to well-known tunes, and ignore the plot completely. There is lots of audience interaction and a healthy mixture of topical humor on current events along with good old fashioned schtick. Only the most conservative and humorless of folks can fail to be amused by the goings-on.