The cast of the Emperor’s New Clothes has songs in their hearts and jests on their lips.
The 100 Mile Performing Arts Society’s newest production is well underway with weekly rehearsals conducted at St. Timothy’s Anglican Church. Last week director Donalda Spears said the cast made it through the entire play with choreography and music for the first time.
“We’re at the point where we’re putting choreography together for the songs we’ve chosen and that’s an exciting and terrifying moment,” Spears said.
Assistant director Margot Shaw said they’ve assembled a cast of 20 “amazingly talented people” for this pantomime. Shaw and Spears were both pleasantly surprised by the mix of long-time society members and completely new talent who auditioned this year.
“We couldn’t have been more tickled with the folks who’ve shown up and the best part is they’re always willing to get sillier and do more silly things,” Shaw said. “Our default position here is perhaps we can make this goofier, perhaps we could be sillier and that’s what we’re working on right now.”
Spears said right now she’s working with her actors to get off book before they enter Martin Exeter Hall in November. With the show set to open in early December, Spears said they’re on a tight timeline to get everything ready.
“Our plays have much longer rehearsal periods but pantomimes are a little bit different. It’s hair straight back right now, but it’s a fun ride,” Spears said. “We’re cruising at 200 miles an hour right now.”
So far Shaw said she’s been particularly impressed with the performance of lead actor Neil Vanderhorst as the titular emperor. Vanderhorst’s enthusiastic energy and expressive face are energizing to watch and have set a benchmark for the rest of the cast to match. Glenn Tanner, who is playing the dame, has also “thoroughly committed to her dameness.”
“Those two have already got their over-the-top business in their heads and with other people, we’re still encouraging them to get a bit more over the top,” Shaw said.
Comedic timing is another thing Spears said her cast needs to work on. The Emperor’s New Clothes is going to be a funny show and the cast needs to learn how to pause for the audience to laugh.
“The last panto we did got longer and longer because it got funnier. You had to wait to keep going otherwise the jokes get lost,” Spears said. “We hope that everyone comes looking for a good time and to laugh. That’s the whole purpose for it to be a lot of fun and that’s what we’re really hoping for.”
The Emperor’s New Clothes opens Thursday, Dec. 1 for an eight-show run at Martin Exeter Hall.