Peter Pan ~ Malvern Theatres

Star rating: ****

The story of Peter Pan is well known by many, film adaptations (live action and animated), pantomimes and musical versions are plentiful and everybody has their favourite incarnation.

ABD Productions have staged this latest production for a limited run at Malvern Theatres. It’s a hybrid of musical theatre and pantomime, with catchy musical numbers, frequent audience interaction and a mixture of both professional and local juvenile performers.

Elliott Hanna (he once played Billy Elliott in the West End, which is where I remember him from – he’s certainly grown up since!) starred in the title role which he played to perfection. He was accompanied by Phantom of the Opera and Opera North star Janey Cowley as Mrs Darling (and the Spirit and the Mermaid!) who was in spectacular voice, a superb choice for all of those characters. There was a fantastic performance from David Thomas who played Mr Darling with a firm hand and later on, Captain Hook – terrorising his crew whilst in hot pursuit of Peter Pan. It makes a delightful change to see a show of this genre in the summer months as usually one has to wait until the festive season to attend a production that all ages will appreciate.

The choreography which was created by Elliott Hanna was a notable feature, plenty of ensemble scenes and opportunities for the juveniles to showcase their ever-growing talent. It was also a pleasant surprise to see juveniles in the roles of Tinkerbell and Tiger Lily. It’s also worth mentioning that Elliott Hanna was tasked with teaching the rest of the cast ‘how to fit in’ – at the tender age of 15 himself, this was surely no mean feat for the young star.

The scenery provided an atmospheric backdrop to the action as Peter Pan whisked the Darling children away on a journey to Neverland. Neverland itself was a beautifully engaging set, imaginative and creative. There’s flying too, as would be expected – not always seamless but it certainly captured the imaginations of the young audience members.

My four year old son was entranced by the entire piece, his favourite was undoubtedly Captain Hook! This production is fun for all the family and it’s an adaptation that’s easy to follow too. The run at Malvern Theatres has finished, however it’s worth looking out for in the future.

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Disney On Ice Passport to Adventure ~ Arena Birmingham

Disney On Ice is on UK tour with Passport to Adventure – click here for tour dates and to book tickets: Disney On Ice

Star rating: *****

Disney is a firm favourite in our household and having been to Disneyland Paris this year (third time for my husband and I, first time for our three year old son) Disney on Ice seemed like the ideal outing to keep the magic going until we can return to the place that our boy can’t stop talking about!

What the Passport to Adventure show brings you is four different films brought to life by incredible ice dancers in character costumes. Providing the ‘narration’ are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and a hapless Goofy who delighted our child with his antics. It’s a non-stop cornucopia of Disney hits and scenes played out in the most extraordinary style.

The shows we were treated to included: The Lion King, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. We were also joined by Judy Hops and Nick Fox from Zootropolis, before the main event – they were getting us all on our feet in a Fit to Dance session. Which is a brilliant idea and was embraced by all in the arena.

The Lion King featured some exceptional skating, with jumps, tricks and one skater in a Pumba costume – no mean feat! Peter Pan included flying in their section, naturally, as well as another member of the cast in a cumbersome outfit – dressed as Nanna the Dog. The Little Mermaid showcased superb ensemble dances with ‘Under The Sea’ being a particular favourite, plus there was a giant Ursula taking up the rink as she glided out in a clever move. Frozen remains as popular as ever, and what better show to perform on the ice than Frozen? It’s where Olaf belongs isn’t it? Even if he is still singing about ‘Summer’! Of all the tales told, I felt that the setting, scenery and stunning performances provided us with the perfect finale.

We can’t wait to return to Disney on Ice, next year and see what Mickey Mouse and his friends have in store for us. It’s such a fantastic family fun event and one of the highlights of our year.

Disney On Ice ~ Genting Arena, Birmingham

*** Birmingham Genting Arena until Sunday 10 April and touring – the tour finishes on 1 May in Glasgow ***

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy all arrived in Birmingham last Wednesday night and they brought their ice skates with them! Disney on Ice was back to rock the Genting Arena in Birmingham and give Disney fans of all ages a glimpse of their cartoon heroes on ice skates.

After a spectacular opening featuring characters from the Disney park ride A Small World, Mickey Mouse and friends were on hand to introduce the show to the great delight of the young patrons in the audience. The Lion King was the first film we were treated to and there were some beautiful interactions between Simba and Nala as well as comedy from Pumba and Timon. The cast of performers are exceptionally talented as they twist and turn to perfection on the ice with spot on characterisation, too.

Before the interval, Peter Pan took us on a journey to Neverland which included a glorious pirate ship steered by the dastardly Captain Hook and an inspired version of the crocodile in hot pursuit. This was the first time I had seen Peter Pan performed as part of Disney on Ice and it worked brilliantly.

The Little Mermaid was a firm favourite, with the crowd singing and clapping along to Under the Sea and some excited reactions to the appearance of Sebastian the crab. Ursula was resplendent as she arrived to stir up trouble and that cannot have been an easy costume to have skated in. The audience choice was most definitely Frozen, despite a couple of mishaps, the trip to Arendelle provoked whoops of joy from most of the little girls in the arena, many of whom were dressed as either Anna or Elsa.

Overall, a smasher of a show from the Disney on Ice team and I can’t wait for the next visit!

Information and tickets can be found by following this link: http://www.disneyonice.com/gb/en-gb/silver-anniversary-celebration

Peter Pan ~ Malvern Theatres

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My final pantomime visit of the season was to see Peter Pan at Malvern Theatres. In my opinion, this was the best I’ve seen this year and it was everything a pantomime should be. It held the attention of two under two year olds, for a start! To the point where a fellow audience member commented on how well behaved my little boy and his pal had been.

The set was bright, effective and simple, this worked because there was not one weak link in the incredibly strong cast, led brilliantly by musical theatre star Jessica Punch. I had seen Jessica previously in Singin’ In The Rain and she was memorable, then – as Peter Pan, she brought a marvellously mischievous element to the character. Her ‘flying’ was also impressive, and her singing voice, which I had prior knowledge of, a joy to behold. Mark Moraghan is the best Captain Hook I have seen to date, and I’ve seen many of them over the years! He had the right mixture of villain and hapless fool to bring the right balance to the character and earned himself a heckle from my young companion.

Rosie Needham played a feisty Tinkerbell, another actress with great vocal ability and she delightfully glided across the stage on roller skates. Andrew Agnew (best known from Balamory) was excellent as Smee, his previous children’s entertainment experience made him an instant hit with the young audience members, and the acrobatic scene was just the ticket at a point in the show where the youngsters’ attention was starting to wain. A well timed peak in the pantomime. Hannah-Jane Fox was a beautiful Mrs Darling and a hilarious comedy mermaid, later on. Fox’s vocal abilities are truly stunning and it was no surprise to learn that she has starred in musical theatre.  The crocodile was also pretty impressive in this version, as it hurtled across the stage on wheels!

The choice of music was spot on, a combination of modern and classic hits which carried the momentum of the show along smoothly. Defying Gravity was the highlight for me, a good choice to showcase some of the female talent in the cast.

Peter Pan stays in Malvern until 3rd January 2016, this pantomime is highly recommended by my young toddler and I. It’s good, wholesome family entertainment and you’d have to go a long way to find another that matches the quality of this show.

http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk is the website to visit to book tickets.

 

Peter Pan ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

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“To Me, To You” is undoubtedly a catchphrase associated with children’s entertainers, The Chuckle Brothers and upon hearing that they were headlining in the pantomime at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre, this Christmas, the expectation was high.

My expectations were met and the fact that this spectacular family show also managed to capture and for the most part, keep the attention of a child who is not yet 2 years of age, is testament to the pantomime that QDOS has produced. Magical scenery which seamlessly changed together with a variety of catchy musical numbers, (notably Rather Be), make a winning combination to be proud of. The chorus are the lynchpin, in my opinion and an excellent team have been put together, the choreography was slick and struck the right balance.

Ross Carpenter is a quirky and chirpy Peter Pan, Hannah Nicholas plays opposite him as Wendy and displays beautiful vocal ability. Joining them with equally stunning vocal ability, as a very appealing Tinkerbell (her appearance inspired a fellow adult male audience member to shout “I BELIEVE!”) – is Lucy Evans. With Eastenders star John Altman (Nasty Nick Cotton) playing another villain, Captain Hook, the cast is formidable indeed. Stealing the show with hilarious audience participation and the perfect comedy duo (naturally), The Chuckle Brothers of course. They took the helm of the pantomime and steered it into traditional ‘waters’. After years in ‘the business’, they haven’t lost their ability to entertain a variety of age groups and long may they continue to do so.

The piece de resistance was the pirate ship, a splendid vessel indeed, which captured the imagination of the youngest member of our party! Large-scale pantomimes are QDOS’s speciality and Peter Pan is no exception.

Tickets can be booked via this link: http://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/panto must end on Sunday 24th January 2016.

You’ll be sorry if you miss it…. oh yes you will!

 

Wendy and Peter Pan ~ RSC, Stratford

Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179189Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179294

Atmospheric before the play itself had begun, Wendy and Peter Pan at the RSC in Stratford has to be one of the most stunningly effective and pristinely performed pieces I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, this year.

Knowledge of the tale was not necessarily required, as Ella Hickson’s eloquent writing tells a thorough story. Perfectly cast with Mariah Gale and Rhys Rusbatch in the title roles and RSC Associate Artist Darrell D’Silva as Hook.

The scene was set in the beautifully ornate nursery where the interaction between the four Darling children (with Sam Clemmett as Tom, James Corrigan as John and Jordan Metcalfe as Michael completing the line up with their sister) opened the production in spectacular style. Completing the family unit were Rebecca Johnson and Patrick Toomey as their parents. The picture window provided a magical backdrop for Peter Pan’s dramatic entrance, aided and abetted by his many shadows who displayed precise choreographed movement.

The set moved to accommodate the journey that the children ultimately took with Pan, the alternation was so spot on it was hardly noticeable. Neverland was the stuff that dreams are made of, the lost boys were a zany mixed bag of personalities who complemented each other superbly. Then there’s the tremendous performance put in by Charlotte Mills a rather bawdy but thoroughly loveable Tink!

Peter Pan’s den emerged delightfully from beneath the stage, this theatre’s stage lends itself to this degree of technicality and it made such an impact. The visual effects, including flying and fights between pirates and lost boys which exuded sheer energy. Notable about Rusbatch’s performance was the exuberance he maintained throughout, in stark contrast to the dark yet comedic character that D’Silva out across as Hook.

The pirates in Hook’s gang were all excellent as individuals as well as a gaggle, David Langham played Knock Bone Jones and portrayed hilarious stark contrast to star of ITV’s Benidorm’s Adam Gillen who played a disillusioned Martin. Of course the pirate ship was a joy to behold and the crowing glory.

The RSC have a Christmas show to be proud of, heart-warming, heart-breaking and incredibly touching while sustaining an edge of wonder throughout.

It’s on until 31st January, for details and to book tickets, follow this link: https://www.rsc.org.uk/wendy-and-peter-pan/tickets/

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