FamilyFestive 15/16North WestPantomimeReview

Peter Pan – The Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent

Writer: J M Barrie

Adaptor: Christian Patterson

Co-Directed by Jonathan Wilkes &Christian Patterson

Reviewer: Carol Lovatt

It must be Christmas as the one and only Jonathan Wilkes is back in Stoke to delight theatre goers with this year’s festive production of that all time classic tale by J M Barrie, Peter Pan.

Playing Mr Smee/Nanny McSmee, entertainer Jonathan Wilkes is this year celebrating ten years at the Regent and he is sure to be as popular as ever in this magical interpretation of the traditional pantomime. The Regent pantomime always has a Stoke theme to it and it is loved by so many and seen as an essential pre-requisite to the fun and frivolity of the holidays.

Slapstick banter and seriously silly antics are always guaranteed to appeal to young and old alike and that is why panto remains such a tried and tested formula. It’s a family show in the great British tradition consisting of a lot of daft humour mixed with celebrity appearances. There is always the evil baddie; here we have the dastardly Captain Hook played by the charismatic larger than life Christian Patterson, with his hapless crew of pirates. All of whom are trying to capture both Peter and his damsel in distress Wendy, played by the lovely Yazmin Wood, in the most farcical and comical manner possible. Even with the help of that fairy dust vision known as Tinkerbell, who is so naughtily mischievous as she skates around the stage. The ship’s Captain finds it hard to secure his bounty of lost boys and girls while being chased by his nemesis – the hand biting crocodile.

Peter Pan is a children’s story which is not easily transposed to stage for the purpose of pantomime but this production does it justice with the ever changing set full of sparkle and intrigue. From the comfortable home of the Darlings to the Skull and Crossbones deck of the Jolly Roger, the audience is transported to a Neverland of wildest dreams. The scenes depicting Chiefs and Indians are particularly colourful and atmospheric with some clever choreography provided by Nikki Wilkes and stunning dance sequences led by Joe Ekperigin.

Throughout this production the quality of the singing by Amanda Coutts as Tinkerbell and the rest of the cast is also a delight to hear and credit must go to Pete Faint for the Musical Direction. Shannon Paul Lane playing Peter has a beautiful singing voice alongside his ability to fly through the sky, he is clearly very multi-talented.

Of course, the jokes fly thick and fast with Jonathan and Christian at the helm and their on-stage chemistry is a big draw for the audiences who have come to know the style and repertoire of this pair. However, sometimes it can be just a little bit too predictable in this annual offering at the Regent.

One thing is for sure, the inclusion of the young cast of children and youth actors is a joy to see and the pantomime provides a perfect showcase to display some great local and emerging talent.

Runs until 3 January 2016.

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