Writer: Liam Mellor
Director: Chantelle Nolan
Reviewer: John Roberts
As pantomimes go,Peter Pan hasn’t always been the perfect fit; it lacks the fairytale magic that fills other titles, however, Liam Mellor’s script manages to take the important plot points of JM Barrie’s dark tale of friendship, revenge, and forgiveness and add enough comic moments to keep the audience thoroughly entertained.
When the production was originally announced, Lewis Bloor was set to take on the titular role, however filming commitments meant an eleventh-hour cast change. If truth be told this casting rejig is probably to the productions benefit as local triple-threat and X-Factor runner up Ray Quinn has stepped into Neverland and provides the production with a confident and charismatic lead who is both flawless in flight and smooth in song.
Writer Liam Mellor joins forces with St Helens regular Simon Foster as Mr &Mrs Smee respectively, and the pair bring plenty of comic moments to the show and help keep the production firmly in panto territory including a novel take on the mop scene usually found in Dick Whittington. Laura Gregory who was last seen playing Cinderella at Christmas is less earnest in the role of Wendy and provides a grounded portrayal of the young girl turned mother. Radio City presenter Claire Simmo is a pleasing Tinkerbell and Charlotte Gallagher is a delightful Tiger Lilly, but it’s Philip McGuiness who out the supporting roles steals the show as the villainous Captain Hook. There is real relish in his machiavellian menace that the audience clearly loves to hate.
Chantelle Nolan keeps the tale infused with pace, at two hours the production never outstays its welcome, even if, at times, Mellor’s script can become a little too thin on actual plot. Sarah Walker’s choreography is tight and it’s pleasing to see more of a commercial edge to the routines, which are delivered with passion and energy from a host of local children and senior dancers.
For all the positives in the production, it does still feel a little rough around the edges and will no doubt find its stride now the production is into the main body of its run. There’s plenty to enjoy and will no doubt provide plenty of fun for the family during this rather delayed end of term break.
Runs until 14 April 2016 | Image: Contributed