An East Van Panto

Charles Demers has been attending and performing in shows at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre since he was a teenager, so when James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto’s Theatre Replacement asked the standup comedian and author (Vancouver Special) to initiate a holiday pantomime tradition at the York Theatre, the Cultch’s just-opened satellite theatre, he found the proposal difficult to turn down. “There’s that old George Carlin quote about never attending the first annual anything, but this just seemed too good,” he says. Pantomimes-musical-comedy fairy tales that call for hissing and booing from the kids while doling out irreverent jokes for Mom and Dad-are a Christmas tradition of centuries’ standing whose formula has only grown more widespread since Pixar adopted the “good for kids and still funny for parents” approach. Demers takes the panto, typically based on one of six tales, further by writing a script (directed by Amiel Gladstone with music by Veda Hille-the same team behind this spring’s Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata) specific to the Cultch’s East Side home. An East Van Panto (Dec. 4 to 28, York Theatre) riffs on “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Why that particular classic? “How can we not make this a story about growing vegetation in your basement to change your financial life forever?”