Dueling delights!

Audiences boo the villain.

Fawnskin, CA, July 31, 2013 – After a strong opening weekend, men in tights return to the Discovery Center Amphitheater for “Robin Hood … the Panto.” The panto form of theatre is popular in England and is a lot of interactive fun here too: You’ll cheer the heroes and boo the villains, amid chases, songs and sword fights.

The Big Bear Theatre Project is presenting the familiar story, but with a twist. Robin and his Merry Men still steal from the rich and give to the poor, but Steve Cassling and Brian Adams play all the characters, and may even pull audience members to the stage to become a part of the action. They’ll battle against the Sheriff of Nottingham and the evil Prince John while waiting for the good King Richard to return. 

The show is directed by Cassling, who staged it as the Pasadena Playhouse’s holiday show for two years in a row. Cassling updated it for Big Bear in 2008, where it played along with his two-man version of “The Wizard of Oz” for the Community Arts Theatre Society. He promises audiences, “You’ll share in their adventures, meeting Little John, Maid Marion, and all the men of Sherwood Forest…. It’s a fun, uproarious experience you won’t want to miss!” 

Pantomime, or panto — not to be confused with the theatrical medium of mime — has a long theatrical history in Western culture, developed in part from the 16th-century commedia dell’arte tradition of Italy, as well as other European and British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques. It evolved in the United Kingdom as a form of musical comedy designed for families and was mostly performed during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy, dancing, gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humor with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers. 

Performances continue for two more weekends at the Amphitheater: on August 2, 3, 9 and 10.   Shows run from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., at a price of $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for teens (13-17), and free for kids 12 and under.  Tickets can be purchased at the door; no advance sales are available.  

“Robin Hood … the Panto” is a fundraiser for the Southern California Mountains Foundation, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that co-manages the Discovery Center with the U.S. Forest Service. Proceeds to the Foundation directly benefit local youth development initiatives that integrate environmental education, training and hands-on service projects. They also support programming that protects our natural resources and interpretive services focusing on outdoor recreation, responsible use, and stewardship of our natural environment.