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Richmond actress becomes the Little Mermaid for East Van Panto

Amanda Sum dives under the sea in her first lead role.
Amanda Sum is playing Ariel in East Van Panto: The Little Mermaid.

Richmond performer and creator Amanda Sum is back on stage, this time playing the lead role for the East Van Panto.

Sum is starring as Ariel, a girl band member in the East Van Panto’s 10th-anniversary production titled The Little Mermaid.

The classic tale is retold by playwright Sonja Bennett with an “East Van twist,” where Ariel falls in love with a mer-person and embarks on an adventure under the sea with her “trash crab best friend.”

The retelling subverts the ideas portrayed in the classic tale, said Sum.

“It’s kind of interesting to look back and think about how (The Little Mermaid) left an impression on (me) as a kid and what that tells young children.”

Sum took on roles in previous productions including do you want what i have got? a craigslist cantata, East Van Panto: Alice in Wonderland and Panto Come Home! She also recently released her debut album, New Age Attitudes.

Being the lead character will be a different change of pace for Sum who has always played sidekick roles in productions.

“It gets me excited to think about little kids who are going to be able to see this love story play out on stage and hopefully feel represented and reflected in this community with the people who are on stage,” she said.

The biggest challenge of being Ariel, said Sum, is (spoiler alert) the lack of spoken lines for the role. The difficulty lies in finding a way to be expressive without a voice, she explained.

But working with a production team and castmates she is familiar with means “there’s always room to fail and room to make a dumb joke, and then know that no one’s gonna judge you if it gets cut.”

“I’m just happy to be working with such a great team and a lot of the same people from last year.”

As opening night approaches and the production moves into the York Theatre, Sum is “feeling good.”

“There’s a lot to be discovered in the space again,” she said, adding that getting reacquainted with the space and integrating set pieces and costumes give Sum an exhilarating feeling.

With this being the Panto’s first time going under the sea, Sum thinks it will provide a “bigger and faster playing space” for actors to get into hilarious antics.

East Van Panto: The Little Mermaid will be running from Nov. 16, 2022 to Jan. 1, 2023 at the York Theatre on Commercial Dr. Tickets are $35 each and can be purchased through The Cultch’s Box Office at 604-251-1363 or online.

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