Weekend Update: Baba's Magic Mitten - performance with a Ukrainian flavour at Dancing Sky Theatre
"Baba's Magic Mitten" continues this weekend at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham. Enjoy the previously published article and get set to enjoy the best in professional theatre with a special blend of home cooking and country charm. If you detect the delightful aroma of baking cabbage rolls and steaming perogies on your next visit to Dancing Sky Theatre, you’ll have a great reason for the sensory sensation. That’s because this year’s Christmas panto performance takes on a Ukrainian flair with the fairy tale inspired “Baba’s Magic Mitten.” The performances go from December 1 through to December 17 at Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham. The festive English panto performances, complete with puppets, music, ornate design and over the top characterization, have been part of the holiday season fabric for many people. This year, owing to a particular world struggle, artistic director Angus Ferguson wanted to put a new spin or the familiar fables with a nod to the Ukrainian community. “I wanted to reinvent it (the panto) and go somewhere fresh and new, and it felt like with the way the world is right now, we really wanted to celebrate and honour Ukrainian culture,” explains Ferguson. “If you look in the phone directory, there are a lot of Ukrainian names around here and a lot of Ukrainian influences.” With the war continuing in Ukraine and world-wide attention to an extent shifting to other turmoil, Ferguson felt his company wanted the Ukrainian people, their heritage and their contributions to remain at the forefront. To do so, Ferguson approached a Dancing Sky alum, Elizabeth Nepjuk who is of Ukrainian descent, for the root fairy tale. Once the premise was in place, in typical Dancing Sky fashion, Ferguson assembled a cast of accomplished performers to begin the collective writing process which remains the heart of each panto’s success. One of those talented performers is Chris Krug-Iron, a former U of S student of Ferguson whose mentorship provided the gateway to Chris’s acting career. “Because of his encouragement, I decided to continue through the (drama) program, and I’ve had the benefit of working professionally on a few shows now,” Krug-Iron says. “I just felt very fortunate when he called me up one day and said do you want to be part of this.” With that, Krug-Iron dove into his first Dancing Sky panto experience. One of the unique features of the experience is the “quick change” artistry that comes with playing multiple characters, sometimes at the literal drop of a hat. “The change of a hat in my case would be putting on and taking off a wig so that I can swap out from one character to auntie driving on the road. These things are pretty distinctive, but they’re very fast at swapping over.” The performances are often combined with a lovely meal for a unique dinner theatre experience, courtesy of in-house chef Ernie. Even the cuisine for this year’s run will follow a creative culinary variation of traditional Ukrainian fare. Ferguson agrees that the aroma of food wafting through the space provides olfactory inspiration for the artists creating the show. The familiar trappings of the panto are all there, says Ferguson, just with a different cultural nod to a key Saskatchewan settler culture and its roots. “The approach is the same,” Ferguson acknowledges. “We’re trying to write a show that’s for the whole family – so kids, parents, grandparents. It’s full of goofy jokes and songs and fun. This time we’ve infused it with a little more magic and depth of tradition for Ukrainians around Christmas time.” Young and old are invited to share in the warmth and laughter of Baba’s Christmas Mitten. Opening night is Friday, December 1, and the show runs through December 17. Thursday nights are the show only, but the Friday through Sunday shows all feature the specially prepared meal. For more information and to connect with ticket sales, click on dancingskytheatre.com. 2023 Baba's Magic Mitten - Trailer from Britainy Zapshalla on Vimeo.