CentralFamilyFestive 15/16PantomimeReview

Peter Pan – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Writer: JM Barrie
Adaptor: Alan McHugh
Director: David Burrows
Choreographer: Steven Harris
Reviewer: Clare White

Pantomime season gets off to a flying start at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, as Peter Pan soars into town, with more pirates, laughter and magic than you can poke a glittery fairy wand at.

Peter Pan isn’t your traditional pantomime tale – there is no dame for a start, and no princess or grand wedding finale. There is, however, a likeable boy-hero, an extremely bad baddie and a thrilling story to be told. Alan McHugh takes JM Barrie’s classic, sprinkles on some panto magic and turns it into a swashbuckling fun-packed adventure.

When Wendy and her brothers are whisked away to Neverland by Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, it’s not long before they are kidnapped by the dastardly Captain Hook, who is seeking revenge against Peter after losing his hand in a previous crocodile-related encounter.

Leading the merry mayhem are popular children’s entertainers The Chuckle Brothers. The duo star as Paul and Barry Smee, Hook’s hapless trainee pirates who become allies for Peter and his friends.

The Chuckles are panto veterans and have been entertaining families with their effortless old school style of comedy for the last four decades. They are the highlight of the show and masters of their craft, which includes the obligatory catchphrases, cream pies and silly slapstick – funny when you are six, still funny when you are 66.

Captain Hook is played by EastEnders‘ ‘Nasty’ Nick Cotton, John Altman. He’s snarling and mean, but perhaps lacks a little gusto and roguishness expected from Dot Cotton’s bad boy son.

Ross Carpenter is full of boisterous energy and boyish charm as Peter Pan, and Lucy Evans sparkles as his petulant fairy Tinkerbell. They are complemented well by Hannah Nicholas as the sweet and serene Wendy and there is strong support too from a team of young performers from local stage school The Classic Academy of Dance, based in Willenhall.

The sets and special effects are clever – there are plenty of pyrotechnics and flying tricks, including an airborne automobile, and Hook’s pirate ship is particularly striking.

The show is missing a standout vocalist or musical number (although ‘nasty Nick’ singing a Taylor Swift hit is quite amusing) however, this didn’t bother the youngsters in the audience, who were too busy belly laughing at Barry Chuckle in his frilly knickers to care, and frankly it didn’t bother us either.

The Grand’s festive offering sticks to the best of pantomime tradition, playing the show to the most important audience members – the children, with great success. Thanks to the Chuckle Brothers, there are plenty of laughs for the adults too, with gags clever enough to fly innocently over the heads of little ones but funny enough to have the grown-ups in stitches. The result is an evening of great family fun and entertainment.

Runs until: 24 January 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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