The panto pirates are coming!

Gabriola Players

Press Release

Wednesday, November 14 2018

When her grandchildren came to Gabriola to see Lesley Hazeldine perform in last year’s panto (as the mother of Jack), she was surprised and a bit disappointed that they had no idea who Jack and his beanstalk were. She tested them on other nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters. Little Miss Muffet? Old King Cole? Mary and her little lamb? Nope.

This was enough to inspire Lesley to sit down at the keyboard and write a panto script to introduce the kids of Gabriola to her favourite nursery rhyme characters. The result was Pirates of Nursery Rhyme Island, a whacky tale of nursery rhyme characters living on a small tropical island who are suddenly visited by a pack of treasure-hunting pirates. There’s skullduggery galore, plus romance, mystery and, not surprisingly (it is a panto after all), a very large dollop of silliness.  

Gabriola Players invites one and all to come out for the world premiere of Pirates of Nursery Rhyme Island at the Community Hall the weekend of November 23 to 25. “We would love to see kids coming in costume. And we hope parents will bring them early so they can colour their very own pirate mask as a keepsake.”

Will the evil Captain Jack Budgie and his motley crew of pirates abscond with the treasure, or will the inhabitants of Nursery Rhyme Island triumph over the miscreants? Will Mary replace her lamb with a man? Will Jack and Jill ever make it safely down the hill? And what’s happened to Old King Cole’s fiddlers three? You’ll just have to come to find out.

Not only is this the first time Lesley has written a panto, it is also her debut as a director. It has, she says, been quite the ride. According to Lesley, “My first acting experience was in the 2012 Gabriola Players panto. I know how much fun it is for a first-timer, so I’m thrilled that four of this year’s amazing cast members are performing for the first time. Wendy Phillips, Jade Evoy, Steve Compton and Phil Ashbee are all making their stage debut. And, of course, you’ll see a number of familiar faces, including an absolutely hilarious performance by Alex Dewar as the pantomime dame and a very nasty Miranda Holmes as the villain.”

Gabriola Players will be staging four performances of Pirates at the Community Hall: Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24, at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, November 24 and 25, at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children and are available from North Road Sports or online at