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• A “messy bit”: a slapstick routine with something wet, gooey, slippery • A “candy bit”: the actors throw candy into the audience • Satire of local events, government policies, famous people

The panto is the People’s Light signature holiday show, designed to give audiences of all ages an exuberant and participatory theater experience. The theatrical form of the pantomime — “panto” for short — comes from England and has been adapted by People’s Light for the American stage. Playwright Kathryn Petersen and “The Dame” Mark Lazar traveled to England to learn about the form firsthand. The tradition is completely different than mime (silent acting). It originated from European theater in the Middle Ages and from the Italian Commedia Dell’Arte. Commedia, a form of theater depending on a simple story, stock characters, and lots of improvisation, became popular in England in the 17th century — so popular that Commedia character types began to appear in English plays around 1660. As the playful English panto developed, it came to include these elements: • A well-known tale that provides the bones for the plot

Snow White: A Musical Panto is the sixth holiday panto that People’s Light has produced. In our version of Snow White, there is still a poisonous piece of fruit to avoid, but the evil queen is a dangerous diva, Regina Valo, determined to reign over all of Follywood, and the dwarfs are her beleaguered servants. Her daughter Ernestina becomes the heroine, aided by an impassioned Russian movie director and a celebrity gossip reporter (The Dame). When Regina finds out that her daughter is cast in the big movie role she covets, watch out! ★

• Music, dance, slapstick — designed to be suitable for audiences of all ages • The Dame: a boisterous yet benevolent matriarch played by a man in drag

Mark Lazar as “The Dame”

• A hero (sometimes played by a woman); a heroine; and a stock villain • Audience participation: the audience boos and cheers • Silly songs that the audience joins in singing

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Michael Ogborn

Kathryn Petersen


A member of the Dramatist’s Guild, Kathryn has had ten plays produced professionally and two plays published with the Dramatic Publishing Company. Her play Arthur’s Stone, Merlin’s Fire has been produced in high schools and community theaters around the country. Last year’s Panto, Cinderella, was nominated for thirteen Barrymore awards and won four. As an actress, she is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and has appeared in over sixty productions regionally. She has received the Emerging Artist Award from The Princess Grace Foundation and has been nominated for Philadelphia’s Best Actress Barrymore for the role of Jill in Jack & Jill. Recent roles have been Daya in Nathan the Wise at People’s Light and Barbara in Iron Kisses at Act II Playhouse. She is an Artistic Associate at People’s Light and has been a member of the resident company for over twenty years. Kathryn is an Assistant Professor of Theater at Arcadia University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Playwriting at Temple University. ★

Michael Ogborn has composed music and lyrics for three Pantos at People’s Light. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he currently makes his home in New York City. His work has been produced at the Arden Theatre Company (Baby Case — winner of four Barrymore Awards including Outstanding Music and Best Musical of the Year — and Café Puttanesca), The Wilma Theater, and 1812 Productions in Philadelphia; The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; the City Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA; the Horizon Theatre in Atlanta, GA; the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego, CA; Theater LaB in Houston, TX; and Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY. As a “Piano Man” he received Philadelphia Magazine’s 1992 Best of Philly Award for a Cabaret Performer, a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award in 1993 for the PBS music video Soldiers in the Sky, and in 2003 the Harrington Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement given by BMI Musical Theatre Workshop. He is currently at work with playwright Michael Hollinger on the musical Tulipomania, commissioned by the Arden Theatre Company. Mr. Ogborn is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, and the owner of Leydensong Music Co. For more information visit ★

Oh, What A Year 1933 was a big year for firsts in Hollywood. In that year, King Kong was the first film to be heavily promoted on the radio. Theaters opened refreshment stands. The Screen Writers Guild was established. The first drive-in movie theater was built in Pennsauken, New Jersey. And the movie musical 42nd Street saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy in 1933.

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3 Dramaturgy/Education intern Amy Lipman talked with playwright and PLTC company member Kathryn Petersen about her popular holiday pantos. Amy Lipman: When were you introduced to the form of the English panto? Kathryn Petersen: There was a summer festival at People’s Light about 7 or 8 years ago where we did a lot of different short pieces, and there was Gary Smith, an adult student in one of my classes who had written a panto that I thought would be good in the festival. It was a real hit. Abbey (Abigail Adams, Artistic Director) thought that this form might be good for a holiday show. AL: And at that point, you started to write your own? KP: Gary wrote another one for us, Sleeping Beauty. I functioned as a dramaturg in that process. Out of that experience I learned some things about the form, and then I wrote the next. This will be my fifth. AL: The panto form calls for certain characters, and that combined with the adaptation of an existing story makes for quite a few writing requirements. What is it like to express your own creativity within this form?

AL: How do you begin your research? KP: I always research different versions of whatever story I’m working with, and for Snow White, I traveled. I’ve done research in England, Colorado, Idaho and Disney World. I looked into mother-daughter relationships in Hollywood. I read many biographies, learned about the 1930s Hollywood studio system and studio heads, watched a lot of movies, and researched the making of the cartoon Snow White. That’s the fun research in the beginning where you’re scheming and dreaming. AL: It’s a tradition for a panto to refer to timely events, or jokes specific to the area. How do you come up with those? KP: The play is set in the Malvern Theatre in Follywood and this puts our audience at the center of the world, at the heartbeat of the story. I listen during the year to what the notable events are in the area. Then, if I don’t have enough in the script, the cast will find some in rehearsal. AL: What is your favorite thing about the panto?

KP: I think it’s like a big puzzle to be solved, you know? AL: I do! KP: There are the stock characters from the panto, and the bits in the pantos. You always need a messy bit, there’s the candy bit, there’s all the audience interaction, plus the characters and plot of the original. You choose a story that you’re excited to tell, and you have to serve that story, but I get to twist it. I want the audience to be surprised in how the story gets told. AL: How do you begin that storytelling process?

Mark Lazar as Hatta and Marla Burkholder as Ernestina

KP: This year’s idea is the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s. I thought about Hollywood gossip columnists and real life characters like Hedda Hopper. As I’m crafting characters, I do a lot of research, and I begin to create a theatrical frame. I started playing with the Dame having her own radio show like Hopper did. The panto is a direct address to the audience and a live radio broadcast with the host in front of a studio audience is a theatrical frame that allows for that interaction.

KP: The people I work with give me such license to play and to think and to scheme. It’s a kick to have a group of incredibly gifted people in a room laughing at material that you’ve worked on and then embodying it in such a way that you can’t stop laughing. Because I’ve worked with these people over time, now I can say, ‘You, come up with your best idea,’ and in the room the actors are saying my lines but they’re ad-libbing these zingers sometimes, and we’ll find some keepers. I think there’s something about the panto form that gives us permission to just go crazy.

AL: Yes, it seems that the panto tradition here is about, ‘How big and how funny and how much can we do?’ KP: The question is, ‘How much fun can we have?’ And, ‘How much fun can the audience have?’ We make the night a full circle of fun that’s not just for the younger people in the house. No two shows are the same and that’s because of the audience interaction, because of the actors’ spontaneity, and it’s amazing to be a part of launching that. AL: Absolutely. Thank you so much. ★

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most notorious gossip columnist and delivered the hottest Hollywood news to radio listeners from 1939 until 1947. The rivalry between stars Joan Crawford and Bette Davis generated much interest and hype. That vicious competition, along with Crawford’s turbulent relationship with her daughter, inspired the crafting of our Snow White’s Regina Valo and her daughter Ernestina.

The motion picture industry soared in the 1930s, in the period between the roaring twenties and the beginning of World War Two. Innovative sound and video technology, along with the increasing fame of movie actors helped to fuel the industry’s major studios including 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Brothers.

As with many forms of entertainment, behind the scenes drama and gossip was almost as good as the polished songs, dances, snappy jokes, and cowboy duels of this golden age. ★

Studios courted and cultivated major stars like Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Humphrey Bogart, whose big names ensured even bigger business. Adoring audiences wanted the scoop on their favorite stars, and celebrity snoops gave it to them. Hedda Hopper, the model for our panto’s “Hatta Whopper,” was perhaps the period’s

Warner Brothers/Album

Movie musicals, gangster films, comedies, and westerns were popular genres of the era. Some films reflected the country’s tough times while others provided a means of escape. Before the introduction of television and the Hollywood blacklisting of the late 1940s, more than 80 million people took in at least one movie each week in the U.S. Customers would spend a hard-earned fifteen cents for 90 minutes of Hollywood relief.

Glamorous Joan Crawford

GROUP IMPROVISATION ACTIVITY In the People’s Light panto version of Snow White, the “dwarfs” are the servants of a self-involved, overbearing Follywood movie star. Begin by assigning a student (or asking for a volunteer) to be the bossy movie star (can be male or female). Then ask everyone else in the class to privately decide which dwarf they want to be (Sneezy, Bashful, Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy, Doc). The movie star begins the scene with this line: “My producer is coming — clean up this house!” Playing their characters, the dwarfs begin cleaning while the movie star walks around checking up on them, asking questions, and giving them new commands. The dwarfs should respond to the movie star when spoken to and they can also sneak remarks among each other when the movie star isn’t looking.


Let the scene play out a little bit, then pause. Ask the students to gather in groups according to the character they chose, then each group in turn can show the class their versions of how their characters clean.

Why do we refer to movies as “The Silver Screen”? The phrase comes from the actual screens on which movies used to be projected. In the 1920s the motion picture industry used a type of screen called a “silver lenticular screen” to project movies. This screen was highly reflective, with a silvercolored surface or silver in the material of the screen. It is now being used again to project 3-D films.

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Key Grip Want the inside scoop on movie set lingo? Learn these terms!

Assists Director of Photography; helps with sound, wardrobe, camera, electronics, and props.

Potemkin Matinee The Battleship Potemkin was a very popular silent film directed by Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein in 1925. The film is about the Potemkin’s crew and their rebellion against their officers in 1905.

Production Assistant

Boom Mic A microphone attached to a long pole and held above the actors’ heads by the boom operator, who keeps it from entering the frame of the shot.

The PA is responsible for any odd jobs needed on the set. A “go-fer.”

Foley Artist

RCA stands for “Radio Corporation of America,” a top audio/visual equipment manufacturer through the 1980s. The K038 is a type of cable.

Creates all of the sound effects used in a radio broadcast or film. Foley artists are named after Jack Foley, a pioneer of film sound effects.

RCA K038

RCA 44 Ribbon

Takes care of lights and other electronic equipment for the Director of Photography.

Ribbon microphones were invented in the early 1920s and gained popularity in 1931. They picked up sound from all sides.

Hays Code



This set of rules controlled movie making from 1930 to 1968. The code enforced what were considered wholesome values and morality in movie making.

In the Can Phrase that refers to when a whole movie or several shots of a movie are finished.

WHO ARE THE SEVEN DWARFS? After the show, draw lines to match up the character with the dwarf he or she most resembles. Remember this trick — one of the characters represents two dwarfs!


Usually the assistant director calls “Rolling!” to let everyone know that sound and film are ready and the action can be started.

Slate This small chalkboard is also referred to as a clapperboard. It is used at the beginning of each scene. The number of the scene is written on the slate, which is then briefly recorded on film. ★


The Butler

Pierre The Personal Chef

Dopey Sleepy

Rhonda The Ladies Maid

The Dazzling, Dolled Up Dame Bashful

Flora Bubba

Grumpy Happy

The Bodyguard

George The Gardener



The Housekeeper

In this year’s panto, the traditional “Dame” character goes by the name of Hatta Whopper, and is played by actor Mark Lazar. Over the years, the Dame has garnered a reputation for her over-the-top costumes. This year, 25 fabrics have been used to make her costumes and hats. She will be appearing in four divine designs: an elaborate evening gown in her role as host of the “Golden Fanny Awards”; her journalist business suit featuring fabric with a pig print and a typewriter in her hat; a pair of snazzy satin pajamas; and an orange suede Western outfit with a split skirt and fabulous fringes.

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The Cast of Snow White, 2009 Ernestina Fefengelig

IMPROVISATION ACTIVITY IN PAIRS Divide the class into pairs and have each pair decide who is A and who is B. Then tell the class that Person A is the producer who is putting up the money for a movie (and hoping to get rich from it). Person B is the well-regarded, famous director who is making the movie. The producer (Person A) begins the scene with this line: “People won’t come to this movie — you’ve made it too hard to understand.” Have the pairs play out the scene that follows from the first line for a few moments. Then pause and ask a few pairs to show their scene to the rest of the class. (Since it’s improvisation, remind the pairs that they don’t have to do their scene the same Find More Activities on Our Blog! way the second time that they Make Your Own Clapperboard did it the first time.) Snow White Word Search


Please visit

A couple of firsts Snow White was the first full-length animated feature produced by Walt Disney, and the first American animated feature film.

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locally at the Arden, the Wilma, the Walnut, 1812 Productions, the Lantern, Act II Playhouse, the Kimmel Center, Delaware Theatre Company, and Lenape Regional P.A.C. Ben was the recipient of the 2006 F. Otto Haas Emerging Artist Barrymore Award. He will be returning to the Walnut in Fiddler on the Roof this spring.

Sarah Doherty Flora, The Housekeeper

Lois Sach Binder Regina Valo Making her debut at PLTC, Lois Sach Binder recently finished a successful run of Respect at Act II Playhouse and will be reprising her role again this winter at the Society Hill Playhouse. Critically acclaimed as Iowa Housewife in Menopause the Musical, favorites include Mayor Matilda in All Shook Up (Media Theatre) and Ernestina in Hello Dolly! (Walnut Street). Holding a BA (Swarthmore) and MA (NYU), Lois appears in film, TV, and cabaret.

Rachel Brennan Frannie, The Production Assistant Making her People’s Light debut, Rachel Brennan is a graduate of The Catholic University of America where she studied Musical Theatre. She recently originated the role of Cindy in the World Premiere of Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney’s Nobody’s Perfect at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. This winter Rachel can be seen in The Kennedy Center’s national tour of Nobody’s Perfect.

Marla Burkholder Ernestina Fefengelig Marla Burkholder splits her time between acting, teaching, and dialect coaching in the Philadelphia theater community. She holds an MFA in acting from Temple University and teaches for 1812 Productions, People's Light, and Temple Theaters, among others. She is the co-artistic director of Shakespeare in Clark Park. Marla last appeared at People's Light in Robin Hood and The Giver.

Jeff Coon

Sarah is delighted to be working at People's Light. She has also worked at Pig Iron Theatre Co., Arden Theatre Co, Act II Playhouse, Theater Catalyst, Walnut St. Theatre, Theatre Exile and Brat Productions. Sarah was named Best Actress in a Musical by Philadelphia Weekly in 2006 (for Brat Production’s Grease and Desist). She also won a Barrymore Award that year (Pig Iron’s Mission to Mercury). She has an MFA from Temple University.

Chris Faith Miles, The Butler Chris has performed Off-Broadway (The Secret Garden and Like It Is) and opposite Linda Eder in The Seduction of Sheila Valentine at the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center. Locally, he has appeared at the Wilma Theater, the Arden Theatre Company, 1812 Productions, Mum Puppettheatre, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Act II Playhouse and the Bristol Riverside Theatre. Chris holds an MFA in Acting from Brandeis University, and he and his wife, Reina, own and operate Dance Arts Collaborative, a children's performing arts school.

Andrew Kane Bubba, The Body Guard Andrew Kane is pleased to be back at People’s Light after playing Tom Cat in last year’s Cinderella. A 2007 graduate of DeSales University, other area credits include The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, The Lantern, Theatre Horizon, and The Arden. He has received Barrymore nominations for Ensemble in a Play (Go, Dog, Go! at the Arden,) Ensemble in a Musical, and Supporting Actor in a Musical (both for Cinderella at People’s Light).

Dustin Karrat George, The Gardener

Vladimir Von Upchuck Jeffrey Coon is grateful to be back at People's Light for his second Panto! He appeared as Prince Aiden of Sargasso in Cinderella last year. He has performed locally at the Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Prince Music Theater, The Fulton Theatre in Lancaster and many others. Later this season he'll be seen as Georges Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George at the Arden.

Ben Dibble Jones, The Screen Writer Ben is thrilled to be back at People's Light! Ben is a nine-time Barrymore Award nominee and has appeared

Dustin graduated from Arcadia University this May with a BA in Theatre Arts. Since then, he has performed at Hedgerow Theatre in The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Ken de la Maize) and in The Ibsen Project: A Lonely Light (Sigurd Ibsen) in this year’s Fringe Festival. Dustin is absolutely thrilled to be part of this great production.

Mark Lazar Hatta Whopper Mark is a 12-year company member with PLTC. In addition to spending the last five holiday seasons in a dress as The Dame, he includes Sherlock Holmes & The Case of the Jersey Lily, Twelfth Night, The Foreigner, The Crucible, The Miser, Born Yesterday, Camping with Henry

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and Tom, and Hearts among his favorites here. Previously he performed with The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, The Charlotte Repertory Theatre, and Milwaukee Rep. Up next: King Lear at People’s Light. In December, Mark will again be the voice of Ebenezer Scrooge in the radio broadcast of A Christmas Carol for First State Children’s Theater.

Susan McKey Rhonda, The Ladies’ Maid Susan has appeared in all five previous holiday Pantos and has been a company member at People’s Light since 1988. Last season she was seen as Sylvia Stein in End Days, and Poisianna in Cinderella. Last spring she also worked with Edward Albee, playing Ann in the Philadelphia premiere of Albee’s At Home At the Zoo at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. Susan is a Barrymore Award winner, and part of the "Freedom Rising" company at the National Constitution Center. She will appear next in King Lear at People’s Light.

Christopher Patrick Mullen Pierre, The Personal Chef A DeSales graduate and a People's Light artist since 1989, this is his 5th Panto. Other PLTC credits include: Getting Near to Baby, Splittin’ the Raft, Twelfth Night, and The Crucible. Other recent credits include: When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder (Retro Productions); Candide, Assassins, and The Stinky Cheese Man (Arden Theatre Company); King Lear, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, and As You Like It (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival). Television credits include appearances on Law & Order. Chris is a member of Quinnopolis NY.

Luigi Sottile Smith, Radio Announcer & Foley Artist Previous roles include Templar in Nathan the Wise here at People's Light, Father Welsh in The Lonesome West, Horace/Chrysalde in The School for Wives, Cassio in Othello, Lush in The Hothouse, Khlestakov in The Government Inspector (all at the Lantern Theatre), Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare in Clark Park), and Handsome in Whiskey Neat (Azuka Theatre). Coming up: King Lear at People’s Light and Leaving at the Wilma.

Tom Teti

Pete Pryor Director Pete Pryor directed last year’s Barrymore Award-winning panto, Cinderella. He is the recipient of two Barrymore awards and two Independence Foundation Fellowships. Pete has worked regionally as a director and actor with Lantern Theatre Company, The Arden, The Wilma, Theatre Exile, Azuka, Delaware Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and People’s Light. International credits include: O’Casey Theatre Company of Northern Ireland. Film and television: Lebanon, The Cellar, Felix Melman, Surrender Dorothy, The In Crowd, Hack and The Starship Akuno. Pete is the Co-Founder of 1812 Productions and the Artist-in-Residence at the Pathway School. Samantha Bellomo, Assistant Director/Choreographer Charles T. Brastow, Production Manager/Sound Designer Jorge Cousineau, Video Designer Mark Cristofaro, Drums & Percussion Michael Hahn, Assistant Sound Designer Heidi Hayes, Music Director Rosemarie McKelvey, Costume Designer Kate McSorley, Production Stage Manager Elizabeth Pool, Dramaturg James F. Pyne, Jr., Set Designer

Tom Teti appeared recently at People’s Light in Cinderella, Treasure Island, and A Tale of Two Cities. This summer he appeared in Philadelphia’s PlayPenn Festival. He is producer and director of the Reading Writer’s event for the Center for Literacy. He teaches acting at Hedgerow Theatre. ★

Thom Weaver, Lighting Designer ★


LB Mogul

Guide written by Amy Lipman, Nancy Shaw, and Sara Waxman with assistance from Marla Burkholder, Marla Jurglanis, and Elizabeth Pool. Photos by Mark Garvin. Costume Designs by Rosemarie McKelvey. Play Artwork by Margraffix Design. Guide Design by Gary Brooks of Hollister Creative.

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Snow White Backstage  

"Snow White Backstage" has fun facts about the show, activities to do, and an interview with the playwright - as well as other great behind-...