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Think Pink

There's a madman on the loose, and it's up to a certain French inspector to solve the case before it's too late. Stage North is bringing The Pink Panther Strikes Again to the stage as the third production in its 2010-11 season.

There's a madman on the loose, and it's up to a certain French inspector to solve the case before it's too late.

Stage North is bringing The Pink Panther Strikes Again to the stage as the third production in its 2010-11 season.

Director Rob Laventure was thrilled at the chance to bring the world of Inspector Clouseau to life on stage.

"I was pretty excited when I found it," he said. "The whole Pink Panther series, when I was growing up - I just loved it."

He noted that, oddly enough, The Pink Panther Strikes Again is the only one in the series that has been adapted into a play.

"This play is almost identical to the movie, even the lines are word for word from the movie. I've seen very few plays that were so identical. There's obviously some things we can't do that the movie does, but for the most part, it's amazing how it follows the movie."

The plot centers around Chief Inspector Jaques Clouseau, head of the Sûreté, and his relationship with the man he replaced, Charles Dreyfus.

Dreyfus was driven insane by Clouseau's constant bumbling and incompetence and committed to a psychiatric hospital.

At the opening of the play, he is about to be released after years of therapy, but a visit from Clouseau drives him over the edge again, and he makes it his mission to kill him.

Much hilarity ensues as Clouseau evades certain death over and over again, without even trying.

The titular role of Clouseau is being portrayed by 'JP' Wood, who is also a huge Pink Panther fan.

"When I heard they were actually going to be doing the play, I was like - ohhhh, I gotta go audition," he laughed. "I would have been happy with any other role, just to be a part of the show would've been wonderful, but I was just really happy that he cast me as Inspector Clouseau."

Wood has been very adamant about doing Peter Sellers, the actor who played Clouseau in the original films, justice in his portrayal of the iconic character.

"It's quite the undertaking, I've got big shoes to fill too, trying to emulate Peter Sellers, and it's not something I want to do wrong," he said.

The role of Dreyfus is played by Blair Scott, who has found the part to be quite challenging.

"I have to admit, for the first month and a half, I didn't know what the hell I was doing," he said. "[But] I really felt comfortable in it the last couple of weeks, and now it's starting to feel good."

The part is far more physical than anything Scott has done before, not just with the stunts, but also facial expressions and other gestures that signal him as the crazy, evil madman.

Laventure was a bit concerned about his actors doing all the falls that are needed to emphasize the slapstick comedy.

Stage North's rehearsal space has concrete floors, so mats were laid out for the actors to practice their falls without seriously injuring themselves.

Wood, especially.

"It's pretty scary, I just don't want him to hurt himself. He stumbles and bumbles all over the place. It's very physical comedy, there's lots of flips and turns and trips and falls," said Laventure. "[At the cultural centre] we've had to learn to do without mats - it's working. They're doing everything they were with the mats. A lot more give on this floor."

The cast of around 30 has worked hard to get the comedy working just right, with lots of little touches such as having "opening credits" at the start of the play, and little pink panthers taking care of the scene changes.

Laventure stressed that fans of the movie should definitely come out to the performance.

"If you know the character Clouseau and you know the movies, and you like them, you will love this play."

The cast also stressed that this is most definitely not the Steve Martin version.

"It is not the Steve Martin movie. No offence to all those Steve Martin fans out there," said Wood.

The Pink Panther Strikes Again runs on Feb. 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at the North Peace Cultural Centre.