Peter Pan, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Review:
**** 4 Stars
“The Highest-Flying Panto in the Northeast”
It may be unlucky for some but not for the magical trio of Danny Adams (Peter Pan), Clive Webb (Smee) and Chris Hayward (Mrs Smee) as they embark on their 13th and 11th consecutive pantomime adventure at the beautiful Theatre Royal Newcastle.
Interestingly its also the first time they have taken on the tale of Peter Pan, a story we all know so well of the boy who never grew up whisking his friends Wendy (Julie Cullen), John and Michael Darling to Neverland with the aid of Tinkerbell (Laura Evans), Tiger Lily (Brilliantly reimaged as Tiger Billy in this production, Performed by the gorgeous Wayne Smith) and the lost boys to fight the evil Captain Hook (Steve Arnott), his assistant Starkey (Peter Peverley) and a band of cut throat pirates.
The story is fully told in this fast paced, glitzy and expertly directed production from the king of panto’s Michael Harrison. He has been clever enough to let Danny, Clive and Chris play to their strengths which have become beloved by the local audiences over the years, whilst injecting a real sense of “old school” panto with sketches such as “the wall” and “if I were not in pantomime” making an appearance. The “old school” theme is given a modern injection by the inclusion of two speciality acts in the Timbuktu Tumblers and Williams and Nock and both acts utterly grip the audience with there mastery of their arts.
The music which in recent years has featured a specially written score has been opened out with a few pop songs making an appearance which really helps freshen the feel of the show tremendously especially with Musical Director Ian Townsend helming a brilliant orchestra. Add that to the stunning set design from Ian Westbrook, A visual treat of a lighting design from Ben Cracknell, and huge special effects from the boys at Twins FX which even has the adults leaning back in their seats as Bikes and Crocodiles fly around the auditorium.
The icing on the cake is in the costumes which really knock the eye out, none more so than resident Dame Chris Hayward who designs his own costumes and it shows as he shimmers in glitter for over two hours never appearing in the same frock twice. His walk down costume is sight to behold and worth the ticket price alone.
Where the show falls slightly is the comedy doesn’t always land well with a few jokes older that father time falling flat. The inclusion of Michael Potts “Idiot” character, (his idiot has appeared in the previous four pantomimes) it’s a schtick that is now very tired and doesn’t raise a titter perhaps its time for a rest in next years announced, “Goldilocks and the three bears”.
At the Centre of Peter Pan is the simply wonderful Danny Adams, a man who knows his craft inside out, and imbues his Peter Pan with a cheeky boyishness that’s you just can’t help but love. He works at an incredible rate performing comedy, flying sequences, daring stunts and warm audience interaction with ease. He is true credit to Qdos and the Theatre Royal pantomime is safe in his hands which is truly no Acciderrnt!
It clear that in the 2017/18 pantomime season Qdos and the Theatre Royal have delivered a pantomime that truly soars higher than any other in the northeast.
Qdos Presents “Peter Pan”, Theatre Royal, Newcastle Runs until Sunday 21st January 2018 Tickets from £13 go to https://www.theatreroyal.co.uk/whats-on/peter-pan