Even Langley’s infamous furry townsfolk don’t escape the “Panto” treatment in the production of “Aladdin” by the theater troupe, The Never Too Late Players.
While loosely based on the Disney movie, this musical version is far afield from the standard fairy tale.
For starters, Princess Jasmine is like, really old, older than 50 at least.
And the young scamp, Aladdin?
Billed as “Aladdin as you have never seen it before,” the play is not only staged by senior citizens, its script is downright wacky.
“It’s silliness and fun and it’s very uplifting,” director Melinda Mack said. “It’s a great show for kids, and adults who’ve had a few glasses of wine.”
“Aladdin” runs through Feb. 11 at the Outcast Black Box Theater at the Fairgrounds in Langley.
Based on the popular British genre called pantomime or Panto, the play takes a familiar story and turns it on its head with contemporary humor, witty dialogue, slapstick, shenanigans and pleas for audience participation.
Boos, hisses and cheers are encouraged and part of Panto’s playful audience interaction.
“Panto has been around a long time in England,” Mack said. “Think ‘I Love Lucy’ meets ‘Monty Python.’ ”
Suzanne Kelman, who grew up in Birmingham, England, said pantomime is performed all over the country, and often by celebrities.
Getting a gig in a local Panto play, “is a big, big, deal,” said Kelman, who plays a guard at the Imperial Palace.
“It’s so much fun,” she added. “There’s lots of opportunity to make fun of the locals, but it’s mostly tongue-in-cheek. Even a bit about the bunnies of Langley we got in.”
This is the second Panto production for The Never Too Late Players, which requires cast members be at least 50 years old.
Last year’s production, “Knight Fever,” combined “Camelot” with “Saturday Night Fever” and sold out. Opening night happened to fall on the evening of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“It was a really good thing to do that day, take in the show,” Mack recalled. “People needed something to lift their spirits. Also in the dark of winter, people need support.
“This provides pure laughter, joy, fun, play. It’s very silly but it’s also very positive.”
But a Panto play can be bumpy on old bones.
“It’s not that we’re super old,” Mack pointed out. “But it’s a very physical kind of acting. And we all have some ‘spot.’ So you hear, ‘Oh, my right knee, my left hip, my shoulder.’ ”
And their memories aren’t what they used to be.
“When you’re this old, you forget your lines,” Kelman said with a laugh. “When that happens, someone usually steps in and says, ‘I think you were going to tell us … ’ ”
In addition to Kelman, who plays Pep-Si, the cast includes Kathy Stanley as Aladdin, Kim Wetherell as Princess Jasmine, Keith Mack as Widow Twankey, Jim Carroll as Abanazer, Jimmy Scullin as Wishee Washee, Christina Parker as So-Shi, Matthew Wilson as The Emperor, Annie Horton as The Genie, Martha Murphy as The Slave of the Ring, Melinda Mack as Ko-La, Shannon O’Phelan as Prince Mabucket and Paul Mathews as Prince Mart.
Many of the Never Too Late members will be familiar to South Whidbey theater-goers from numerous Whidbey Island Center for the Arts programs. Others haven’t acted since high school or college.
None expected to shine under the spotlight again.
“When you’re old, you never think you’ll be a princess again,” Mack said. “But Kim Wetherell, our Princess Jasmine, is in her 50s and she’s knocking it out of the park.”
If you go
“Aladdin” is showing at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Outcast Black Box Theater, 819 Camano Ave., Langley. This is the second British Panto production by The Never Too Late Players.
Tickets are $18 for adults or $14 for seniors and students. Purchase tickets online at brownpapertickets.com or by emailing Outcast Productions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Never Too Late Productions on Facebook for more information.