Panto at Hale's Palladium!

Published on: December 30, 2013

My resolve to stay in this weekend didn't last very long -- my daughter and I decided, on the spur of the moment, to see the Fremont Players' Panto-style version of Cinderella at Hale's Palladium.

The performance space is located at the rather dark back of the Hale's Brewery building, facing railroad tracks and the Ballard Fred Meyer. It didn't look very auspicious until we approached the door. A man in a turquoise coat standing outside asked us if we were ready to "make a lot of noise" and then hustled us into a warm, high-ceilinged space strung with white lights. Women in costumes directed the crowd to the ticket line or seating, and the Fremont Philharmonic played something that sounded like gypsy jazz.

The show is very silly and charmingly loose, as if it had been thrown together by a group of friends during a dinner party. This is a version of the Cinderella story in which the ugly stepsisters are a pair of very tall men in not-quite-drag, and the prince and his valet are women. The ugly stepsisters preen and flounce and work the hell out of their English accents; Cinderella is sweet and ill-used; her father is a bewigged bumbler; the fairy godmother wears a prom dress. Also,there's a ghost.

Go for the audience participation -- you're encouraged to hiss at the sisters as they tear up Cinderella's ball ticket, and every time a character says "oh, no, I didn't," you're coached to respond with a rousing "oh, yes, you did!" Tonight's boisterous crowd shouted out "oh, yes, you did!" at every opportunity, and the cast heckled back. It's fun. I really needed a dose of the silly tonight. You probably do, too.


Cinderella closes Sunday, Dec. 28, with a 3 p.m. show. Tickets are $6-$12. Buy a beer for $4 or a bag of popcorn for $1 (hot dogs, pork sandwiches and brats are $6). Bring cash.

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