Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Talk about a fairytale life. Born in darkest Winnipeg, Ross Petty came off the blocks in a blazing run for the bright lights and has never looked back. The man has played Broadway, starred in London’s West End theatre which is the Brit Broadway, created a long running role on TV soap ‘All My Children,’ reared his lovable mug in numerous TV and movie roles and even voiced some of your fave cartoon characters in shows such as Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Pippi Longstocking and Free Willy. On top of all that, every night he gets to go home and sleep with real life ballerina and top shelf beauty Karen Kain. Dude, anything else we can get you?
In Toronto, Ross Petty is as Christmas as Santa, acquiring this lofty status from his annual pantomine productions of what he calls “Fractured Fairy Tale Musicals”. In the 19 years since he’s been doing it, Petty’s reworked childhood classics such as Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast and of course those perennial lovable men in tights, Robin Hood and Peter Pan.
Working out of the elegant Elgin Theatre since 1996, Ross Petty Productions’ shows are firmly in the old English pantomime tradition, incorporating many of that style’s elements: broad comedy, mandatory audience participatiion in the ritual booing of villans, saucy quips for the adults, satirising popular songs for the kiddies, nudge, nudge wink wink one-liners and a man in a dress, played by the great man himself.
Petty cut his pantomine teeth in the early 1980s working with a Brit producer Paul Elliott who introduced the concept to Toronto with shows staged at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Elliott was a stickler for tradition with no tolerance for colouring outside the lines, who worked with a cast of imported Brit actors salted with the few Canucks who Elliott thought had a clue. Among the latter, Ross Petty, who first trod the panto boards in 1983 and by ’86 had became co-producer with Elliott. The relationship lasted a decade until 1996, when the Ross Petty vision of pantomine was...