Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Runs: 2h 15m: one interval: till 13 January
The press-night audience loved this!
The press-night audience loved this Peter Pan – quite right too; there’s an abundance of things to enjoy. Comedy, well-loved routines, song and dance, spectacle… over two hours and a quarter, it’s all there.
Top comic is of course Joe Pasquale as Smee. Complete with trademark glasses and squeaky voice and a whole lot of ad-libbing, he’s brilliant, especially when the words run away with him. Top actor, and boo generator, is John Challis, thoroughly at home as the villainous Captain Hook. And Jack McNeill is a splendidly animated Peter Pan. All these and others are helped by an inventive and funny script.
In a job interview with Hook, Smee is asked, “Which two days of the week begin with T?” His answer? “Today and Tomorrow”. The tongue-twister relaying gag is brilliantly done by Smee, Hook and Starkey (Paul Gabriel). And the intertwining of a daft rendering of YMCA with the In the Navy routine is terrific. So is the Twelve Days of Christmas with Pan, Smee, Tinkerbell and Starkey. That said though, dance numbers, however slick, are insufficiently differentiated from each other.
Also on the negative side, possibly because the principals and special effects are given a lot of exposure, large well-loved sections go missing from the basic story – Mr and Mrs Darling and their family’s’ homelife with the dog are lost. Nor is there any ticking crocodile following Captain Hook about.
More seriously, everything, especially the music, on press night at any rate, was too loud, which meant people couldn’t hear the lyrics properly. And Tinker Bell is rude and petulant, fair enough. But she’s too shouty for audience comfort, and comprehension.
Flying is done well, and the special 3-D effects – undersea creatures and a giant crocodile – are remarkable; though it would be a welcome change to have fewer of them next year. They seem to be emphasized currently at the expense of some traditional ingredients.
All that said, this panto is ideal for a family afternoon or evening out.
Smee: Joe Pasquale
Captain Hook: John Challis
Peter Pan: Jack McNeill
Tinker Bell: Lucy Evans
Starkey: Paul Gabriel
Wendy: Rosie O’Hare
Tiger Lily: Rory Furey-King
John Darling: Samuel Brown, Lucas Emerson
Michael Darling: Ben Philips, Kairo White
Ensemble: Kostas Alexo, Abby Rose Bryant, Amy Carlin, Jon-Scott Clark, harry Morley, Joe Nolan, Danielle O’Reilly, Brydan Pillar
Babes: The Theatre Royal Babes
The Theatre Royal Orchestra: Musical Director/Keyboards Ed Court, Bass Guitar Pete Moore, Drums/Percussion Steve Hamper, Trumpet/Flugelhorn Adam Linsley, Tenor Sax/Flute Chris Ranger
Director and Choreographer: Jonny Bowles
Lighting Designer: David Howe
Sound Designer: Justin Teasdale
Musical Supervisor: Rick Coates