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.