Writer: Michael Harrison and Alan McHugh, adapted from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Musical Director: James McCullagh
Choreographer: Stillie Dee
Director: Ed Curtis
Reviewer: Sue Collier
A delightful children’s choir and a wonderful Santa gives a great welcome to the Alhambra. 3D glasses are clutched in excited anticipation in a theatre packed with children and adults, all eagerly awaiting the start of the famous Bradford Pantomime.
The opening scene of Peter Pan is fast paced and breath-taking as the audience are introduced to the Darling children asleep in the nursery. Ian Westbrook’s staging never disappoints and throughout his sets are bright, fresh, exotic and carefully detailed.
The role of Peter Pan is played with ease by Jon Lee who seemingly effortlessly and naturally flies around the stage. He is bright, charming and engaging as the young boy from Neverland who doesn’t want to grow up.
Captain Hook is played by Darren Day, and it’s great to see Day really enjoying himself on stage, his singing voice as clear as a bell throughout. He is evidently relaxed and has a strong rapport with his co-stars, particularly with Billy Pearce as Smee. Together they perform a very fine voice changing liquid sketch, and there is a Twelve Days of Christmas sketch, which is energetically delightful.
Yorkshireman Billy Pearce is now in his 18th consecutive pantomime season at the Alhambra. One may wonder why he is invited to return to the Bradford pantomime season so repeatedly or question whether his pantomime performance can continue to remain fresh for so long. The answer is simple. Pearce is a master of the art of pantomime and he continues to expertly engage his entire audience with an energetic performance throughout. Pearce’s humour is gentle, funny and without any vulgar adult innuendos, and a joke about Donald Trump is well appreciated. His singing voice is tuneful, his ability to engage with his audience endearing and his local Bradford jokes are very well received.
Charlie Hardwick, (best known for her role as Emmerdale’s Valerie Pollard) plays Mimi the Magical Mermaid with style and accomplishment. She works tirelessly, is likeable and her cheerful disposition and energetic performance is absolutely believable.
A wonderful live orchestra complements the singing, though; during the opening scene, some song lyrics are lost beneath the high volume of the orchestra. However, as it is only on one occasion and as almost everyone knows the story, this is not too big a disappointment.
There are other high calibre aspects of this Pantomime, including the many stunning costumes which are imaginatively detailed. The spectacular visual special effects and the 3D presentation by Whizzbang 3D Productions Ltd. causes a riot of sound from the audience who enjoy an underwater scene where they are seemingly attacked by piranha, a giant octopus and a terrifying shark. The huge Crocodile is completely fabulous, though no doubt it may be slightly terrifying to some younger members of the audience. There is a full selection of traditional pantomime favourites, (sword fights, ‘Oh no there isn’t’ and ‘It’s behind you’). Stillie Dee’s choreography offers an array of dancing styles from a sizable ensemble. The Bradford children’s troupe The Sunbeams are a credit to the show with their charmingly disciplined, high-quality performances.
Peter Pan is a pantomime of extremely strong calibre and is highly recommended.
Runs until 29 January 2017 | Image: Contributed