Scouts Honor: The Whichever Scouts vs. The Energy Monster

The Arcata Playhouse original holiday “Panto” is back for a fourth year. This year they have well and truly mixed up and maxed out the holiday tradition by taking the behemothic, over-the-top monster-movie format and crossing it with some gender-bending Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys sleuths. Added to the determination of the Whichever Scouts are a beloved dog sidekick (James Peck), and two comedic squirrels (Halla Kramer and Vela Citrine). With different guest performers folded into the show every night, this madcap extravaganza will have something in it for the whole family.
This creative endeavor begins several months before the holidays with a team of writers coming together to improvise and write and improvise and write; working, molding and coagulating together to build the decorative, tinsel, star-topped tree holiday show for the Arcata Playhouse.

The writing team and cast is a veritable Santa’s sack of talent from across Humboldt, including music written Jeff Kelly and Tim Randles (who also leads the live band) with additional harmonies from the Blue Lake Community Choir, under the direction of Jackie Dandeneau.

The Playhouse prides itself on nurturing actors through an apprenticeship model: this year director Sarah Peters has brought together 17 actors, some who are completely new to the stage, some who, like David Powell (Mama Scout), are seasoned professionals. Sammy Quezada, a Hoopa Elementary teacher new to performing said, “Entering the playhouse, I had no idea the scale, talent or minds of which I'd be collaborating with. However the atmosphere and initial anonymity of not knowing anybody allowed me to relate myself in a comfortable way… the discipline of respecting the collaborative time when present- the vulnerability that this team displayed, it allowed one to get comfortable in their own skin.”

David Powell said of the process, “It’s an incredible feeling to be part of a long holiday tradition that brings laughter and fun to families during the holiday season, and it is a wonderful opportunity to play creatively with my friends and fellow actors.”

When the show opens, every performer, like Santa, will know how to deliver presence.

On the subject of bad puns, English Pantomime is a special form of theatre that happens all across the United Kingdom, in theatres large and small, to celebrate the holidays. The name does not mean you will see silent actors lifting invisible ropes and boxes! This popular form can be traced to a production 300 years ago at the Drury Lane Theatre in London, and it takes its characters and broad comedy from the Italian street theatre of the 1500s known as Commedia dell’Arte. Many of the traditions expected in a panto include, a leading male played by a female, a pantomime dame ( a lady played by a man), comedy ranging from bad puns to satire, audience participation (such as booing and hissing the villain), a good old sing along, dancing and local acts thrown in for good measure.

Performances are Thur., Fri. and Sat., Dec. 5, 6, 7 & Fri. and Sat.13, 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8
at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 general, $10 students/veterans/members and $8 youth 12 and under.

There is a special benefit performance for the Arcata Soroptomists on Friday, December 6th for $15.

Tickets available at Wildberries Marketplace, online at arcataplayhouse.org or reserve at 707-822-1575.