ComedyFestive 16/17PantomimeReviewSouth West

Peter Pan – New Theatre, Cardiff

Adapted by Jonathan Kiley and Alan McHugh (from the original story by J.M. Barrie)
Director: Tudor Davies
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

This year’s panto at the New Theatre is a thrilling, swashbuckling affair as Peter Pan flies into Cardiff. In a show that is full of lavish dance routines and spectacular scenery. J.M.Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who never grew up is the stuff that dreams are made of and this production, under the assured touch of director Tudor Davies, plays the fantasy to the hilt.

tell-us-block_editedWhile one might question the raison d’être for dropping the parental roles of Mr and Mrs Darling (presumably dictated by length?) it is, of course, the traditional characters of the story – the fairy Tinker Bell, the infamous Captain Hook and the Lost Boys of Neverland – that are the key ingredients of this most loved of pantomimes.

What makes this Peter Pan so much fun, in particular, is the casting of television’s (former) superstar David Hasselhoff, as Captain Hook. When Hasselhoff appears one is torn between booing and cheering, such is his presence, and even if he might appeal more to the parents in the audience than their kids, it only adds to the magic of pantomime to see an American entertainer submitting himself to the fun of pantomime and all the self-mocking ridicule that goes with the job.  ‘The Hoff’ – as he is affectionately known –  is a master of the genre, never taking himself too seriously, and with clever nods to both Baywatch and KnightRider, and even a gorgeous take on Sinatra’s classic number My Way, keeps the audience thoroughly entertained.

Much-loved local comedian Mike Doyle is the Dame, providing a side-splitting delight as Mrs Smee. In oversized and outrageous costumes Doyle delivers a non-stop flow of gags that are as corny (and even just a little bit saucy but never offensive) as they come, with perfect timing. With a relish for the role that is evident, Doyle is everything a pantomime Dame should be.

Playing the “boy who never grew up” is Matthew Chase.  Boyishly slim, athletic and sprightly, Chase convinces us of his magical powers. His excellence in a thrilling sword fight with Captain Hook is an added bonus. Female roles there are aplenty, with Stephanie Webber, famous from BBC’s The Voice as Mimi The Mermaid adding a splash of nautical enchantment to the Neverland Lagoon. Completing the beautifully sounding (and looking) quartet of supporting women are Julie Cullen, Emma Prosser and Natalie Winsor as Wendy Darling, Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily respectively. There’s a well-drilled ensemble too, with rotating shifts of enchanting young pupils from The Lorri Guppy School of Dance making up the Darling brothers (on opening night in Cardiff Will Greenaway and Jake Johnson as John and Michael Darling respectively), and the Lost Boys.

Great costumes throughout, and masterly effects that include an enormous and deliciously scary jaw-snapping crocodile add to making sure this panto ticks all the boxes.

Runs until 8 January 2017 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Ticks all the boxes

User Rating: 3.44 ( 4 votes)

The Reviews Hub - South West

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

Related Articles


  1. Peter Pan was a massive disappointment! I feel the story of Peter Pan lasted approximately 20 minutes most of the show was about The Hoff, his Knightrider car, boobs, and how much everyone loves him and Baywatch. Absolutely rubbish! Tinkerbell overdosed, quite a lot of sword fighting. While I was there a child was hysterical with fright and put his coat over his head. In the end his father had to take him out as this scene upset him so much. The Hoff was inappropriate with the young girls on stage, saying I love boobs, being inches away from young girls boobs. The Hoff made reference to wanting to hook Mimi and run his hook down her back. The parts to entertain adults was FAR too close to the bone. Also Mrs Smee, the man dressed as a woman came on as Pamela Anderson with false boobs and bum, this scene had nothing to do with Peter Pan. You will feel conned after paying £35 for this rubbish but most of all your children being exposed to such inappropriate things. I cringed in my seat several times and with hindsight I should have complained. I couldn’t believe that Tinkerbell overdosed, to me this gives completely the wrong message to children. When the going gets tough let’s drink some poison. I could go on and on. I Certainly wouldn’t recommend this show, it’s seems confused who the audience should be. I would never spend any money on a show that The Hoff is in again, he is very old and vulgar.

    The best scene was when the young girl and the children sang a song, that was lovely. If it had stayed on track about Peter Pan and was like that all the way through it would have been lovely. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

  2. I agree with everything Sally has commented on..I was waiting for the real panto to start. If Mike Doyle had not been in the panto it would have fell flat on its face…he was funny and got the children laughing but this panto seemed to be aimed mainly for adult entertainment.

  3. I totally agree. It was a huge disappointment. Bring back Linda lusardi and Sam. There was no need for the second half as it was pointless and unless it was for Mike Doyle, I would of walked out. We have gone to the pantomime in Cardiff for several years and sadly I think this will be the last.

  4. Yes I do agree!
    We paid £350 + to give the children a treat and were disappointed. Whilst most of the actors and dancers were good, especially Mike Doyle, the story was lost and the show was just a vehicle for The Hoff who was completely inappropriate for the part and gave the impression that he was less than enthusiastic about being involved. Comments like “we get Christmas Day off” and “only x days more” came over as having significance.
    What about a traditional pantomime next year? Yes, make it spectacular but not at the expense of the story and not a vehicle for a star who is no longer a star.

  5. What a massive waste of money! We always treat the family to a night at the Pantomime but I think this year will be the last! Why can’t we have a traditional show? Most of be children didn’t know who The Hoff was !! And I suspect most of the adults didn’t care! Mike Doyle was fabulous as always but the writer!? We brought a disabled person and had to use the car park opposite 16£!! That’s a tax on being disabled – disgusting!
    Come on Cardiff we are better than this. Issue vouchers to disabled people for the night.
    And give us a traditional pantomime

  6. I agree it was rubbish. I love the theatre especially the New theatre because I have been watching pantos there for over 50years. This year was not a pantomime about Peter Pan. The story was lost completely to bay watch !!!! So disappointed.

  7. Lighten up, you boring old sods, it’s Christmas and our family fully enjoyed it, brilliant pantomime!

  8. I suspect from that comment, I am “old” by comparison with the last reviewer, but perhaps I am fortunate to have seen many productions that follow the true tradition of Pantomime. Certainly lighten up and have fun but lets not dumb everything down. There was much to be enjoyed but don’t kid yourself that it was ‘traditional pantomime’

  9. It was more like a musical than a panto. Mike Doyle saved it. The Hoff looked like he couldn’t walk. Last year’s was great, this year was not.

  10. Saw it last night. Mike Doyle was ill. The whole show was an embarrassing let down and we’ve seen them all for 20 years. Jokes about MFI !….. Really!!!! No Mike Doyle to save this dire show. At one stage I felt, and I suspect most of the cast felt, they should have stopped the show early and refunded everyone.

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon’s performance of Peter Pan at the New Theatre Cardiff. Best pantomime I have seen there.

  12. We enjoyed the Panto. Yes there was some old jokes and banter a little cringeworthy.

  13. It was very disappointing. The jokes were toilet jokes, certainly not for children especially the awful story of the pheasant! There were a lot of people there from care homes and I think they deserved better. As for the Hoff how many children have heard of Baywatch. I normally love the pantomime, it adds a bit of sparkle and fun to a cold winter’s day. But sorry to say I couldn’t wait for it end.

  14. As a regular visitor to the pantomime, I have to say I was very disappointed this year. It was nowhere near the usual standard for the New Theatre, thank goodness for Mike Doyle as he saved the show. If this had been my first visit, I would not be going again. I booked my tickets for next year prior to seeing this year’s performance so I’m hoping it’s back to it’s high standard by then. Different actors and I assume different writers this year. Please New Theatre you have a beautiful venue and great staff. Bring back the fantastic pantomimes that we all love and expect. Even my eighty five year old mum was a bit disappointed this year.

Back to top button