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December 6, 2004

Last chance to see Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s hit holiday production ‘The Princess and the Pea’

By Scott Rappaport

Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) has been garnering rave reviews for its latest holiday show The Princess and the Pea, a fresh adaptation of the children’s fairy tale.

Elise Youssef plays the Princess of Balonio. Photo: Steve DiBartolomeo

Combining clever song, dance, and comedy with audience participation and inspired storytelling, the creative team of playwright Kate Hawley and director Paul Whitworth has put together another successful “panto” at UCSC to celebrate the holidays.

Panto is the English theatrical form that takes a fairy tale and twists it, mixing musical theater with vaudeville and melodrama.

“Pantos have been filling British theaters during winter holiday seasons since Victorian times,” Hawley noted. “If they are good, they create a taste for live theater that lasts a lifetime. The particular thrill of a good panto is that it is unashamedly theatrical, highly farcial, and at the same time, curiously moving,” she added.

This marks the third holiday collaboration for Hawley and Whitworth who also joined forces for Cinderella in 1999 and 2000 and Gretel & Hansel in 2001 and 2002. The 2004 show stars a number of the festival’s favorite participants, including Joseph Ribeiro (the stepmother in Cinderella and Carmen Monoxide in Gretel & Hansel), Suzanne Schragg, Michele Farr (the Queen in Cinderella), and Mike Ryan (Buttons in Cinderella and Tom Cat in Gretel & Hansel).

"Having been introduced to live theater (like most English children) by going to the pantomime at Christmas time, I'm particularly thrilled to continue the tradition in Santa Cruz with our own home-grown variety,” said Whitworth, SSC’s artistic director who recently returned to UCSC after a two-year sabbatical.

“Kate Hawley's pantos are a wonderfully funny, smart, and moving combination of the American musical and the traditional English pantomime--an endearingly eccentric blend of fairy tale and theatrical exuberance that has nothing whatsoever to do with mime," he added.

Only one week is left in the holiday run, but due to popular demand, a new December 8 performance has been added. Show times are at 7 p.m. on December 8, 9, and 10; and at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on December 11 and 12. For ticket information, call the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159 or visit

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