Director: Bob Thomson
When QDOS recently took over the pantomime tender at the Liverpool Empire with Cinderella three Christmases ago, the level and quality of show in the city took a massive leap. It’s sad then to hear that QDOS are taking a break from the city and that Peter Pan is the last pantomime here at Empire for at least a year. So, does it soar into the sky as high as last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk? The answer is a resounding yes. It doesn’t just fly as high as its predecessors it soars.
Peter Pan has never been the perfect fit for a Pantomime. Its story arc often struggles to find a natural home for the set pieces that pantomime often demands both for its performers and its audience. Any worries though are quickly pushed aside. The story has been stripped back (most of it is done by the interval) and some artistic license has been adopted by the company which allows a better fit for its star cast to showcase their talents and often results in some of the most hilarious panto set-pieces this reviewer has seen.
Taking on the titular role is local actor Adam McCoy who brings a great level of energy to the role, but as is the case is side-lined often for the bigger named celebrities. McCoy is charming and provides the role with some excellent vocals. Christina Hoey is a perfect companion to McCoy’s Pan and gives the role of Wendy a much-needed roundness. As the other Darling Children (on press night) Jamie Leahey is a charming John and Archie Williams-Lawton is such an animated performer who steals almost every scene he is in and easily holds his own against the rest of the cast.
Onto the top billing cast – Benidorm’s Asa Elliot takes on the role of Karaoke loving Tiger Billy and provides plenty of excellent vocals, likewise Nikki Evans as Mimi the Magical Mermaid may be underused in the grand scheme of things but she makes every moment on the stage worthwhile including a very surreal underwater scene. Louis Emerick plays the villainous Captain Hook with panache. Emerick gives the role the right level of sophistication and charm which balances the more Machiavellian elements perfectly. Strong support also comes from Georgie Ashford who gives Tinkerbell a real feisty edge.
The show really belongs to the two comic roles, John Evans makes a welcome return to the Empire Stage and has quickly become a firm favourite to local audiences, here he takes on the role of Shipmate Smee and provides plenty of gags some more risqué than others but all hilarious. Evans works perfectly alongside Benidorm’s Tony Maudsley who plays the naughty and camp Cutlass Kenneth. Maudsley knows his target audience and he plays up to each and every moment with perfect comic timing and when paired alongside Evans things become hysterical. A normal “If I was not upon the stage” routine a prime example.
Director Bob Thomson keeps the show fast-paced and never lets the energy drop and alongside excellent choreography by Paul Domaine and brilliant lighting design from Peter How. This is without doubt another hit for Qdos in Liverpool.
Runs until 29 December 2019 | Image: Mark McNulty