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Justin Crann
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Snow White to take Mae Wilson stage

A woman in red brandishes a cardboard box as she paces before a mass of onlookers, mocking them.

"You are ugly!" she barks at a young lady in the front row of the theatre before cackling maniacally.

The crowd kicks up a chorus of boos as the red woman — a queen, the audience has been told — returns to her perch at the far end of stage left. The woman admires the box in her hand and the contents therein: the heart of her sworn enemy.

She cackles once more and retreats behind the stage, leaving her audience in silence.

This is just one of the many scenes from Snow White, the third holiday pantomime to be hosted by the Mae Wilson Theatre in as many years. It is also among the darkest of the show's scenes.

In 2011, Trudy Moffatt and Diversified Productions, Inc. brought Cinderella to the Mae Wilson's stage. In 2012, they brought Aladdin. Both of the shows were successful, and now the company has returned for a hat trick.

"I think (Snow White) will draw a lot of laughs. In fact, I know it will," said Mandy Higgins, marketing director for the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre, in which the Mae Wilson Theatre is housed. "We've had two pantomimes here before … they were very well-received, with laughs in all of the right places. I think we'll have that again this year."

The production, like its predecessor, features students of the local Doris Sitter School of Dance, whose performances are incorporated seamlessly into the work.

Higgins said this is the first year, however, that students have had prominent — and not just supporting — roles.

"This year, some students are playing the seven loyal courtiers," explained Higgins. "They've always been the dancers in the past, but this is a more prominent role in the production."

Also featured is a unique blend of humour appealing to both children and adults — a "common feature" of pantomime performances, according to Higgins. Much of that humour is delivered in the form of Andy Trithardt's Muddles the Jester.

"In pantomimes, there's usually one character who is overtly funny and has the line stumbles and (breaks the fourth wall) to talk directly to the audience," Higgins said. "In this show, that character is Muddles."

Though most in the audience will already be familiar with the story of Snow White, this particular take on the tale offers plenty of surprises, Higgins said — primarily in the humour and delivery of its finale.

"You're not thinking of Snow White, the Disney movie," she said. "You're just watching this story of Snow White as it is told in this production."

The show takes the stage twice — at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. — for each of four days: Dec. 23 and Dec. 27-29. Tickets are $25 per adult, $20 for students and seniors over 65, and $15 for children 12 and under. They can be purchased through the MJCC box office at (306) 693-4700 or at moosejawculture.com.

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Organizations: Mae Wilson Theatre, Moose Jaw Cultural Centre, Trudy Moffatt and Diversified Productions Doris Sitter School of Dance

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