PETER PAN: 4Star****, Mansfield, till 31st December


Palace Theatre: Tkts 01623 633133

Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 31st December.
Performance times: 10am some days, 2pm every day, 7pm most days. No performances on Suns, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Signed Performances 9th Dec 7pm and 10th Dec 2pm.
Review: Alan Geary: 2nd December 2016.

The best Mansfield Palace panto for at least sixteen years. Outstanding stuff.
Unquestionably Mansfield’s best pantomime in at least sixteen years, this happens to be one of the finest pieces of theatre this reviewer has been to all year.

We get a hugely-talented cast, with some splendid comic acting, especially from Marc Baylis as the child-hating Captain Hook (and Mr Darling). And it’s visually spectacular: costumes are lavish, the multitude of sets are brilliant, and the flying scenes, for instance, the one over the London rooftops, are breath-taking.

From the opening cockney street ensemble to the underwater routine with the mermaids led by Hayley-Jo Whitney as Mermaid (she also plays Mrs Darling), song and dance is beautifully choreographed and executed. And, happy to report, music/voice sound balance is spot-on; you can hear every word.

This is a smut-free evening. There’s excellent rapport with the audience and quick-fire patter from Adam Moss as Smee. For the connoisseur of useless jokes, his best line: “I used to walk the plank when I was a kid. We couldn’t afford a dog”.

As a presumably one-off bonus, on press night, Moss invited his real-life girlfriend Karen up on stage, proposed to her, and presented her with an engagement ring. She accepted.

Jessica Punch plays Peter Pan with tremendous verve and flying skill, and there are some genuinely accomplished performances from the host of children, especially the boys playing John and Michael. In the tricky role of almost grown-up Wendy, Rosie Needham is a delight; so is Holly Atterton as the jealous Tinkerbell on roller-skates.

The inclusion of the Red Indian band is refreshingly non-PC. And when Tiger Lily (Natalie Hollingworth), the chief’s beautiful daughter, is captured it’s an unmissable opportunity for that dreadful old favourite, the one about “An Indian take-away”.

Peter Pan isn’t your straight-down-the-line panto with a Dame; it’s an Edwardian play with, given contemporary sensibilities, a psychologically interesting dark underside. But for sheer entertainment for all ages this production is virtually unbeatable.

Captain Hook/Mr Darling: Marc Baylis.
Tinker Bell: Holly Atterton.
Smee: Adam Moss.
Mrs Darling/Mermaid: Hayley-Jo Whitney.
Peter Pan: Jessica Punch.
Tiger Lily: Natalie Hollingworth.
Wendy: Rosie Needham.
Pirate Crew: Connor Stringer, Tristan Crabtree and Morgan Jackson.
John: Harley-Jay Martin/Josh Chick.
Michael: Thomas Brown/Jacob Jones.
Townsfolk/Indians: Lauren Siddall, Erin Mason, Molly Reaney, Grace Oxley, and Nana the Dog.
Lost Boys: Academy of Dance, Expressions Performing Arts, Stagecoach, Stage Door Academy of Dance and Theatre.
Village Children: Directions Theatre Arts, Syncopation.

Director: Anthony Williams.
Choreographer: Kirsty Sparks.
Musical Director: Martyn St James
Written by: Andrew Ryan.
Additional Material by: Anthony Williams and John Monie.
Sound Designer and Operation: Kirk Jackson.
Lighting Designer: Kevin Greene.

2016-12-05 12:02:39

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