Photo credit:   Tim Matheson


The Cultch presents:
East Van Panto: Pinocchio
Theatre Replacement (Vancouver)

WHEN:                                November 20, 2019 – January 5, 2020

Opening Night:                  November 22 at 7pm
Previews:                           November 20-21 at 7pm
Performance Times:         November 23-24, November 26-December 1, December 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 26-29 at 7pm | January 2-5 at 7pm
Matinees:                           November 23, 24, & 30 at 2pm | December 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 26, 28-29 at 2pm | January 2, 4, & 5 at 2pm
Relaxed Performance:     November 30 at 2pm

639 Commercial Drive in Vancouver, BC


My Review of East Van Panto: Pinocchio

East Van Panto: Pinocchio isn’t the Pinocchio that your children (or anyone else’s if you’re egg-less like me) know and love. No, in fact it’s Pinocchio hyped up on triple caffeine – after all, that’s what happens when you live in East Van where coffee bars spring up faster than cannabis grow houses in BC. It’s a clever and humorous musical which takes familiar songs from disco hits such as You Make Me Feel Mighty Real (Sylvester) to the popular Italian opera, Figaro’s Aria (Gioachino Rossini) and transports the audience on a magical journey where the laughter meter hits 30 on a scale of 1 to 10 and imagination takes us all the way up to the top of Grouse Grind.

But what makes this play even more endearing is that it been adapted to make Vancouver its focal point by including iconic people and places such as Jiminy Pattison Cricket and the Hastings Racetrack. And of course Vancouver would be amiss without its usual drag queens (the Dame Edna character was uttering Fabulous with a capital F), orcas and coffee wars on the Drive. But what makes this production even more scandalous is the smattering of politically incorrect quips about Canadian politicians who we all love to hate or hate to love. But despite this hyped up “adult” version of Pinocchio, there’s still a lot going on here for children to love as the songs are amusing and there’s enough dialogue that isn’t “adult specific” that will keep your little ones amused and clapping their hands in glee.

The actors are brilliant as they not only manage to belt out each and every song so effortlessly (and kudos to great acoustics and wireless microphones), but I noticed that some actors do double duty in dual roles such as Amanda Sum who plays Jiminy Pattison Cricket and the diabolic villain (who shall remain unnamed unless you give me 10 lbs of chocolate or money) and Chirag Nalk who plays the Fairy Instagram Godmother who mocks social media fame and also plays Mr. Boobies aka ??? (again, no spoilers).  And of course, I would amiss if I did not mention Pippa Mackie who plays the naive I-wanna-belong-in-the-boys-club Pinocchio so convincing that it’s hard to picture her as a “real” girl.

East Van PantoL Pinocchio is 120 minutes of non-stop entertainment that makes Momma Mia! or any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical look like a kindergarten production. Its a musical that should be on Broadway in New York as it’s insanely brilliant, insanely funny and just plain insanely entertaining. So if you’re bored this holiday season, then head to East Van Panto Pinocchio as its insane fun for the whole family.


Tickets from $26; On sale now at The Cultch’s Box Office, by phone at 604.251.1363, or online at
*Child tickets just $26 for any seat in the house *(must be 16 and under)
**Family Packs from $160 **(Family Pack includes 2 adult + 2 child tickets)

ADDED VALUE: Enjoy a post-show artist talkback on November 30 (2pm performance)

East Van Panto Pinocchio

East Van Panto Pinocchio – Photo Credit: Emily Cooper


About East Van Panto:  Pinocchio

“Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto has become a Vancouver tradition, to the point where it’s hard to imagine the holidays without it.” – Vancouver Musicals

The Cultch is thrilled to present Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto: Pinocchio at the York Theatre from Wednesday, November 20, 2019 to Sunday, January 5, 2020.

East Van Panto returns for a seventh year, welcoming back the creative team behind last year’s hit Wizard of Oz: playwright Marcus Youssef, composer Veda Hille, and director Stephen Drover.

When a lonely old ice cream vendor named ‘Gelatto’ is given a puppet by the mysterious ‘Beckwoman’ of Commercial Drive, his dreams of having a child suddenly come true. Join a locally famous cricket, an angry orca, and a dastardly fox as poor Pinocchio does his best to tell everyone the truth and become a real boy. But why are Pinocchio’s limbs always growing? Will there be a Cappuccino War between the ‘Abruzzos’ and the ‘Calabrias’? And why are all those kids ditching class to go to Hastings Racecourse? Don’t worry, Pinocchio – just follow your nose!

“We had a wonderful time in Oz last year, and we are thrilled to be returning with the same creative team,” says Theatre Replacement’s Artistic Director, Maiko Yamamoto. “This year, we are headed straight to the heart of East Van: Commercial Drive! Marcus has taken inspiration from the neighbourhood’s Italian heritage to give Pinocchio a brand new, hyper-local spin. As always, we are trying to walk the line between respecting tradition and upending convention. We feel so lucky to be able to take these kinds of risks each year alongside thousands of families from across the Lower Mainland.”

Heather Redfern, The Cultch’s Executive Director adds, “It means so much to us that the Panto has become such a wonderful holiday tradition for so many people. Last year’s Panto was so successful that we’ve extended the run dates this year to seven weeks. We are so excited to sing along with everybody. Go Panto, Go!”

East Van Panto: Pinocchio is recommended for a general audience. As an advisory to adults who might bring young people, The Cultch recommends East Van Panto: Pinocchio for ages 5 and up. All persons entering the theatre, regardless of age, must have a ticket.


Cast of East Van Panto: Pinocchio

East Van Panto:                           Pinocchio is written by Marcus Youssef
Directed by:                                  Stephen Drover
Music & Lyrics by:                        Veda Hille
Starring:                                       Pippa Mackie, Shawn Macdonald, Chirag Naik, Naomi Wright, Amanda Sum, Ivy Charles, Nicholas Elia, Emma Ross
Orchestra:                                    Veda Hille & Barry Mirochnick
Stage Management by:                Jan Hodgson
Costume Design by:                     Barbara Clayden
Set & Props Design by:                Yvan Morissette
Props Mastery by:                        Heidi Wilkinson
Lighting Design by:                      Adrian Muir
Choreography by:                        Amanda Testini
Scenic Illustrations by:                 Cindy Mochizuki
Assistant Stage Management by:Jennifer Stewart
Technical Direction by:                 Jeremy Baxter

About Theatre Replacement:

Theatre Replacement is an ongoing collaboration between James Long and Maiko Yamamoto. Whether working together or apart, we use extended processes to create performances from intentionally simple beginnings. Our work is about a genuine attempt to coexist. Conversations, interviews, and arguments collide with Yamamoto and Long’s aesthetics resulting in theatrical experiences that are authentic, immediate, and hopeful.


About The Cultch:

Now in its 46th season, The Cultch has been one of Vancouver’s most diverse and innovative arts and cultural institutions, offering dynamic programming in contemporary theatre, dance, and music by local, national, and international artists. Today, The Cultch continues to enrich the social and cultural life of Vancouver by bringing world-class cultural presentations to the public, supporting the growth of emerging artists and companies, and facilitating dialogue between groups in the Lower Mainland, especially within our local community of East Vancouver. The Cultch is so much more than just a theatre in the physical sense – our organization is looked upon as one of the foremost performing arts presenters in the country. Widely recognized as an innovator and leader, we have played an integral role in the development of British Columbia’s artistic landscape.




Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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