Landing at the Theatre Royal this Christmas is a pantomime with local connections, the swash buckling pantomime Peter Pan.
Writer of the original classic fairy-tale, JM Barrie, for a time worked in Nottingham and it is said that during his time at the Nottingham Daily Journal, he took inspiration for the character of Peter Pan from a local street urchin, but he probably never imagined his story told this way.
Star of the show is funny man Joe Pasquale. A master at his trade, from the moment he takes to the stage he delivers everything the audience would expect from him; funny gags, his song, “Squeaky” Smee has the audience in the palm of his hand. Young and old chuckle away at the silliness of Joe’s world. It’s simple, timeless comedy and he steals the show.
Joe has been doing pantomime for over 30 years, yet he still manages to keep his performance fresh and funny in this years Theatre Royal pantomime, which is the best in years.
Qdos Entertainment, the producers, have thrown in every ingredient you would expect and need in a good old panto – it’s colourful, non-stop, well-choreographed, it has vibrant sets, it’s well acted, not to mention some astounding special effects. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but look out for the crocodile!.
The story of Peter Pan is more magical than traditional panto slapstick, so we’ve no Dame or pantomime cow, for example, but I love a bit of magic and with that it doesn’t disappoint. Our Peter is played superbly by fresh-faced Jack McNeil, flying in the opening scene to meet Wendy and the children and Lucy Evans is a perfect Tinker Bell.
John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) gets the baddie role as the villainous Captain Hook. Thankfully he doesn’t play it as Boycie in a frock coat and is every inch a sneering, evil but fool-hardy Hook – worthy of every “boo” which greets his appearance on stage!
No stranger to Nottingham, having played at Nottingham Playhouse many times, Paul Gabriel, puts in a fine performance as Starkey the Pirate.
There were several elements of the production which seemed to have been used in previous years. The tongue twister, the twelve days of Christmas routine. I’m pretty sure both featured in last years production, but the audience loved them so I guess they’ve become part of the Qdos pantomime tradition. Speaking of the audience, the kids they get on stage are always little stars, and tonight’s were no exception, Joe knowing how to work them to the best comedy value.
There was the usual local references (though I’m sure something could have been made of Netherfield) but not so many topical gags. Just the one reference to Brexit which didn’t really muster much of a giggle.
Peter Pan continues flying around the Theatre Royal until 13 January. With Mr Pasquale on board I can only predict it will get sillier and sillier. Sure, some of the ‘made to look like it’s gone wrong’ stuff is scripted, but it’s harmless fun. The kids will love it, not to mention the special 3D effects, Mums and Dads will simply love the show’s star.
Make sure you get along to see this high flying panto that spreads feel good factor like a generous dollop of fairy dust this Christmas.
By Tanya Louise
Disclaimer: My tickets were complimentary but my views are my own
Photos courtesy of Nottingham Theatre Royal