On a dry but cold December night around Christmas, you can always do with cheering up. So on Tuesday night I went off to the Pomegranate Theatre with my youngest daughter and the ‘other half’. Disclaimer – my eldest daughter is in one of the dancing teams throughout the run so we had a real reason to go along.
After a welcoming voice off stage sets us in motion we are presented with a modern day park where Peter Pan (Anthony Sahota, BBC’s Let It Shine) appears to regale the crowd with stories of his adventures before we are whisked back to London in 1904 and meet the Darling family before they settle down for the evening.
The first 20 minutes or so of the show are slow to get going but highlights include ‘Let it Shine’ by Pan, and a touching rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ by Kellie Young (Liberty X) before the children fly off to Neverland.
Once there the panto really gets going, we meet Smee (James Percy), who entertains the audience with enough local references and improv to keep the show moving along at a cracking pace while making everyone laugh out loud “Is it you?” the audience shout every time he appears on stage, “No…” well I won’t spoil the rest.
Dame Abel Mable (Philip Day) is as much fun as you’d expect from a traditional panto dame, dressing up in loud wigs, colourful costumes as well as hanging over the stage as a mermaid and then becoming a Christmas Turkey later on. The only downside is that I don’t think that the Dame was given enough stage time, more Abel Mabel in future please.
We also meet the real star of the show in Neverland, Captain Hook (Sam Attwater, Eastenders, Dancing on Ice) as the smooth but devious villain. With plenty of nods and winks to the audience, Hook is set on capturing Peter Pan, but as ever he is on the run from that crocodile.
Imaginative dance numbers are scattered throughout the show and all the younger performers from the Lost Boys to Michael and John, perform with confidence that belies their ages. “I’m Slightly – I know that because that’s what is said in my shirt when I was found, Slightly Soiled is my name”. That confidence is a testament to their training at the local theatre schools in Chesterfield where they are learning their craft.
Wendy (Lucy Edge), adds lightness and elegance to the role of the Lost Boys “Mother” and like Abel Mable could have been used more. Special mention to the Senior Ensemble who mingled with the younger members of the audience in the stalls during the interval and performing as both Indian Braves and Pirates in different dance numbers through the show.
Aside from the slow start and few niggling sound issues that will get smoothed out over the run, this year’s panto pleases it’s audience with jokes for all ages, the children on stage will make you go “ahh”, while Smee and Abel Mabel will keep you entertained with the traditional panto gags and ghost sequences that shouldn’t work in this show on paper but they really do. Hook really hams it up in his struggle to overcome Pan while Tiger Lilly leads her Braves with little fear.
Asking my 9 year old on the way home after the show for her favourite part, she summed it up quite well. “I liked all of it”.
The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan continues at The Pomegranate Theatre until 2nd January 2018. For tickets, call 01246 345 222 or visit www.chesterfeildtheatres.co.uk