Fairy tale classic boasts British influence

Arts: DeWinton production of Snow White puts twist on popular story

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 09:58 am

Brett Gartly plays the Queen and Samantha Duff is Snow White in the Goodger-Pink Productions’ Snow White, which begins Dec. 7 at Foothills Composite High School.
Brett Gartly plays the Queen and Samantha Duff is Snow White in the Goodger-Pink Productions’ Snow White, which begins Dec. 7 at Foothills Composite High School.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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A Calgary actor returning to his childhood stage in Okotoks has something unique in store for his audience this month.

Brett Gartly is one of four actors performing an over-the-top version of the fairy tale “Snow White” at the Foothills Composite High School this week and next. However, what may be shocking is the fact Gartly is playing the queen.

“The queen is definitely portrayed as a woman, more of a drag queen style character,” he said. “It’s really funny. It’s corny jokes and slapstick comedy.”

Okotoks’ British expatriate community will recognize the British pantomime style, which takes a familiar fairy tale or classic children’s story and injects contemporary references, music and switches gender roles.

When Gartly received a call from Samantha Duff, artistic producer of Goodger-Pink Productions in DeWinton, asking him to play a role in “Snow White” he was on board.

He said one of his favourite parts about this style of acting is getting the audience involved.

“When somebody says something stupid I can look at them and give that face and direct it to the audience rather than as if the audience was never there and make faces to myself,” he said. “Being able to give them the little signal and being able to have those inside jokes with them is wonderful. Usually as an actor you have to imagine that they’re not there.”

Gartly would know because the former Okotokian began acting in the Dewdney Players Group Theatre at the age of 10. Coincidentally, his first role was in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, but not as the queen.

Gartly also performed with drama groups at Holy Trinity Academy, the University of Lethbridge, Theatre Calgary, Sandbox Children’s Theatre and Trickster Theatre in Calgary.

“It will be interesting going back to Foothills Composite High School because I used to perform there all the time,” he said. “It’s like full circle for me.”

Also coming home is Duff, performing the role of Snow White.

The former Okotokian, who now lives in DeWinton, aims to bring unique styles in the performing arts to Okotoks, something people wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

Last summer Duff hosted an outdoor summer play called “Rumplestiltskin Revisited”, a silly and funny remix version of the fairly tale. The play was an opportunity for Duff to share the joy of watching a performance in the park, just as she had done as a child.

“I didn’t want to wait again until next summer,” she said. “We needed to keep the momentum going and think of another interesting way to bring family-friendly theatre to Okotoks,” said Duff. “Every time I do something I want to do something a little different so I can bring different theatre styles to families in Okotoks that they might not otherwise get a chance to see.”

In England British pantomimes are a popular event at Christmas, but Duff admitted she was anxious about how people in the Okotoks area would respond to something different.

“It’s the thing that families do around Christmas time,” she said of England. “It’s been going on for hundreds of years. It’s just as popular as it was back then. My cousins all still go every year.”

Duff was curious to see if it could be just as popular in the foothills, with a few minor adjustments.

She was granted permission from playwright Michael Switzer to remove the British references and make the script more modern and local to Okotoks.

Duff said she expects people will enjoy the larger than life characters, colourful and oversized costumes and silly choreography. Also performing are Calgarians Alan Johnson as Scuzzy the Dwarf and Holleay Rohm as the prince.

The performance dates are Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 7, 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $12 for adults and $8 for children and youth and are available at the door. The audience can pay what they can afford for the 2 p.m. performance on Dec. 7.

For more information or to purchase tickets online go to www.goodgerpinkproductions.brownpapertickets.com.


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