Director: Cal McCytstal
Writer: J. M. Barrie
Adapter by Eric Potts
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
Tick tock Tick tock! What do we hear coming? Yes, it’s the dreaded sound of the croc in Milton Keynes’ fab, fun Xmas panto this year. Bradley Walsh returns to Milton Keynes’ Never Never Land as Smee after a gap of seven years, joined by none other than the street-dancing pirates, Flawless.
Based on J.M. Barrie’s fantastic story we find ourselves transported to a magical Never Never land, where no one ever grows up, with Peter Pan and the children he has ‘borrowed’ from the Darling household…. This is the tale of their adventures with pirates, Amerindians, Captain Hook, crocodiles and much more. Oh and some fab tunes!
Bradley Walsh’s hopeless babysitter/1st mate, Smee, is well done. He is in good form with plenty of smart one-liners, even if the ‘there’s no roof’ joke is a tad over-extended. He has had a hand in some of the script and it shows. Walsh is a natural for panto and obviously enjoys doing it. He has a surprisingly good singing voice too. His singing of ‘Something Stupid’ in a ‘threesome’ on the wall is spot on. Beautiful harmonies too from Jodie Jacobs’ pirate girl and Shane Knight’s pirate lad. The latter needs particular mention for the brilliant way he takes on such diverse rôles as pirate, Amerindian, Nana the dog and the croc no less, all with the same pizazz and enthusiasm.
Flawless, whorecently toured with Ethe English National Ballet, are very aptly named and steal the show at times. Their dance with lights in the second half is stunning in both senses of the word! The guys do a pretty good job of acting and singing as well.
David Bedella, previously in Rocky Horror Show, brings us everyone’s favourite villain, Captain Hook, with gusto and a special kind of ‘soave’! What a rich voice, both speaking and singing. He is ideal for the part. His version of ‘Word Up’ is awesome. Wicked star George Ure flies in as the eponymous hero with panache, although he is somewhat understated at times and his fabulous singing voice could have been used a little more.
As Wendy we have Victoria Tyrell who gives a solid performance as the motherly young heroine. She has a powerful voice. Her rival, Tinkerbell, is wonderfully performed by Francesca Mills, who flies as well as roller skates! She has some great facial expressions and delivers the comic lines with class: the perfect naughty fairy with the soft centre. Peter Pan’s other ‘love interest’, Tiger Lily, is portrayed with charm by Rebecca Lisewski, who has plenty of energy and a super voice.
The set is delightful and transitions are smooth. Sarah Dean’s choreography is really tight and uses the stage well. The whole is very sharply directed by Cal McCrystal.
Plenty of typical and fun panto stuff, including the “It’s behind you!” etc. A welcome return to real kids’ panto with extra thrown in for the grown-ups. A fab family evening well worth the visit.
Runs until: 11 January 15