This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.
The first impression of this production is a little odd since the audience is initially greeted by a cinema style set of trailers and adverts projected onto a screen. Once it settles down, the show is certainly glitzy with big, loud scenery and backdrops which fill the stage.
All the ingredients of a pantomime are present. The big name draw is Henry Winkler i.e. Fonzie of Happy Days as Captain Hook. There are inevitably references to Happy Days but they fall short of bringing out his trademark pose and an “Ay!”. Though a full rendition of the Happy Days theme tune towards the end reminds us once again who the star is. Then there is Peter Pan himself, played by the man-child Jeremy Legat along with a very musical theatre turn from Victoria Tyrrell as Wendy. There is also the obligatory little person Kiruna Stamell as the antisocial and permanently midair Tinker Bell and the suggestive Bethany Willetts as Tiger Lily.
There are the odd pyrotechnics intended to elevate the sense of production values. These are combined with the large ensemble cast which is never short of being energetic and enthusiastic, with song and dance which screams entertainment at you. The choice of music is eclectic, from Our House by Madness to a snippet of YouTube sensation The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?), not necessarily something everyone will sing along to.
However competent as general entertainment, it sadly never gets out of second gear. This production is full of narrative which is good if you want to find out what happens in Peter Pan. But on the downside, there are too many plot points to get through. The Tiger Lily gang and her tribe, the pirates and the Lost Boys all have their sets of narrative development. And along with all the musical numbers which are crammed in, laughs are few and far between, apart from a short section of jokes from the skilfully played pirate sidekick Smee by Dermot Canavan. Unfortunately, the biggest laugh comes at the end when a young audience member invited onstage for a singalong seems to have an unsatisfiable itch down his pants. The second half is definitely better than the first but it is a little unsatisfactory overall.
Nonetheless, if you want song and dance and colourful staging and some pantomime antics, it does not disappoint. But if you are looking for something more special than a run of the mill production, you will have to look elsewhere.
Photo: Peter Schiazza