Life in the theatre community

Panto is an exciting theatrical experience for children and adults alike—it is the only dramatic experience where kids do not have to suppress their natural exuberance and where adults can break with stuffy decorum of a traditional audience.
Children and adults laugh, boo, the little ones run up to the front of the stage and even argue with the actors—there is nothing quite like it. The audience is as much a part of the show as any of us and leave feeling they have controlled the outcomes on-stage and the ad-libs of the actors. The audience has a workout—and everyone has fun.
The Royal Canadian Theatre Company and its Pantos play a connective role in Surrey and the Lower Mainland. The Vancouver region lives up to its well-deserved reputation where inroads into friendships and community are as congested as its highways. Of all the cities where I have lived in the world, this one is the most isolating and one of the least cosmopolitan. That communities are separate and demarcated tends to create a sense of separateness reinforcing the alienating concept of “them and us”.
There is a sense in the Royal Canadian Theatre Company that differences do not exist. Since my daughter and I have joined the cast, we have learned tremendously from Ellie King as director, Shara Nixon as voice coach and many experienced actors, choreographers, costumers and crew next to newbies.
Inexperienced cast and crew members are given a stake in the show, taught and encouraged to take ownership. They do not sit back in traffic vying for a chance to inch forward in the hundreds of roles, jobs and decisions that drive a show—new members are encouraged to participate and go with a harmonious flow.
In Panto, many parents work side by side with their own children. Last year, there were at least 5 families working together on and offstage from a variety of cultures. Parents and children have the unique experience of learning from each other. And where else could you see an Indo-Canadian Blue Fairy, a Philippina leading lady, an elderly Englishman, Japanese, European Canadian cast & crew members, people with disabilities, people of diverse sexual orientations, musicians, actors, techs, working together in a learning environment—where new members are mentored and often in the driver’s seat of their new learning experiences.
The actors and crew in RCTC and the professional networks that sustain them outside of our Panto family have connected my daughter and me to a vast number of options in this exciting field. Weirdness is appreciated —it is reassuring; a relief to be welcomed into a community with broader routes in a city that can be quite cold.
My daughter has been nurtured and taught by veteran actors, singing coaches, choreographers and musicians. I cannot put into words how enthralled she is to belong to such a troupe, the joy that she brings to her family in her performances, as well as the discipline and pride the RCTC has instilled in her. If a child can sing, dance and act silly on-stage, they can do anything. She is stronger, more confident and assertive from it.
For myself, the risk-taking on stage and the performing have not only improved my acting, singing and dancing, but I am often pleasantly surprised to even use those verbs in connection with myself as an adult who has not been on stage for decades. The risks on-stage and the new friendships have fulfilled me creatively, nourished me socially, and I no longer feel stuck in traffic and alone in my adopted city, Surrey.
This is a theatre company that sees neither colour, race, religion, nor sexual orientation—the RCTC sees friends and family, teachers and students, fostering lifelong learning along the way: it is deserving of support in our community from leaders in business, arts, the municipality, and provincial government.
It has been a blessing in my life and in the lives of others.

Jeremy Glas
Delta, BC

Lovely people to work with, creates stunning professional productions that are sure to entertain.

Lauren Allistom
on FaceBook
Thank you ...

Thank you so very very much for helping me to improve my acting skills in your class.
I really enjoyed memorizing and reciting the monologues and making my characters believable. I especially liked making up scenes in your class and acting them out with the other students.
I have found that your classes have helped me to have more confidence and I am less anxious when I have to speak in class or make a presentations.
I had so much fun taking the Saturday classes that I am wanting to become even more involved in acting and learn more about becoming more believable with my characters.
This was a super fun class to be in and I am proud of the new things that I learned. I enjoyed meeting new people.

A 12 year old participant

They always put on a very enjoyable professional performance!

Sandra Juniper
on FaceBook
Brilliant Sets

Ellie’s Panto was filled with grace, elegance, beautiful humour, gorgeous costuming, brilliant sets, outstanding music, a script that was so geared for an adult audience but still fit for kids and ultimately I feel follows closer to the tradition of what a true panto should be.

In fact it could be exactly what it should be – I’ve never looked into it. On our drive home we both said we would definitely see her productions again.

Debra Davaughn
on FaceBook
Dear Ellie King!

My son just completed your April to May Saturday acting sessions at the Newton Arts Center and truly enjoyed participating in your program. He has commented that the classes have helped him to become more confident when he makes presentations at school in front of his classmates.

I would like to commend you for your dedication and professionalism in teaching your craft of acting to these young acting students. Your patience and encouragement for these preteen and teen students is especially appreciated. I have found the cost of your program to be very reasonable and comparable to others offered in the area and hope that you will continue with further acting classes for children.

You seemed to have the magic formula for keeping your students involved – You make your lessons “Fun” and you keep them wanting more. I especially enjoyed the term end presentation and I could see that the young actors were proud of their performances.

a satisfied Parent
Fabulous Company

They have amazing people and they are a fabulous company to work with! I'm going on my fourth year with them and I love it!

Rachel Craig
on FaceBook
Top Notch

Ellie King’s acting classes are top notch!

While ensuring the kids have a great time, Ellie is focused on developing a wide range of skills – communication, group cooperation, leadership, and public speaking skills that are useful in all aspects of life.

Of course, kids also develop an understanding and appreciation of the arts and various acting skills from character development to improvisation.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Academy under Ellie’s leadership is the place to go!

on FaceBook
A High School Drama Teacher

I am writing this letter in support of Director Ellie King and The Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

As a high school drama teacher in school district 36, it is vital for me to stay connected to community and professional theatre both for my own inspiration and learning and also, more importantly, for my students.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company has been such a great opportunity for us,and I and my students have had an artistic relationship with Ms King for about 12 years now. My students and I, get the opportunity to act in plays directed by a professional director, with professional actors and perform in a professional theatre. My stagecraft students work on props and also have participated in stage crews working alongside professional union crews. One student even went into the profession.

Manfred Schulz
Drama Teacher
Regent Academy, Surrey BC
My Granddaughter

Hi, my name is Linda Del Degan and my granddaughter, Emma were part of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company free Mentorship program under the leadership of Ellie King for the years from September – January 2011 and 2012.

Not only was it fun, but it gave me the opportunity to both work and play with my granddaughter. We bonded over the many hours of singing our songs in the car, getting ready for bed and practicing our steps together. An experience that neither of us will ever forget.

For me, it gave me the opportunity to share my passion of theatre, both being involved and having the priceless experience of preparing, practicing and the wonderful feeling when the audience shows its appreciation with laughter and the “ooohs and ahs” for the children. At 6, my granddaughter had the opportunity to experience the importance of perseverance, self-discipline, focus and learning to work as a team-member, as well as the warm feeling of being part of a family.

This year was of particular importance to her as due to mental health issues her mum was not able to be available to her and her father has never been involved. The other mum’s cuddled her when she was upset and she had favorite gentlemen who would hold her and pay her attention. This feeling of family and support was there for both of us and helped us through a difficult time. I also feel the friendships we forged have made such a difference to our lives.

I highly recommend the program and would like to see it supported so that it can continue to grow and help others in the community.


Linda Del Degan and Emma Ladmore
Fantastic Experience

Being a part of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s annual Christmas Panto was a fantastic experience for me and my children. I watched my children grow as individuals as they became a part of something while working together with others

Dr. Rena Upitis from Queen’s University says that the arts help children with “skills and enhances engagement in school learning overall.” There was an article in USA Today by Tamara Henry talking about the ways the arts benefit students. How drama “helps with understanding social relationships”. . Every parent wants their children to be able to appreciate themselves as well as others. Being a part of Ellie King’s Panto gave my children a sense of accomplishment while teaching them to work as a team.

The best part of the Panto is the family. When a group of individuals come together in a common interest, a Panto family is formed. We support and care about each another. I am very grateful my children have had the opportunity to find this new family as it has made them more confident individuals. I will be forever grateful to Ellie and the Royal Canadian Theatre for allowing me to experience this with my children. I would recommend this experience to all families.

Karen Dyke
on FaceBook