Review: Peter Pan at Stafford Gatehouse

This year marks the first set of productions by Prime Pantomine, a new venture by Selladoor Worldwide and Immersion Theatre. Jointly, they create this panto by numbers which contains all the elements you need for a great, homely British panto.

The Gatehouse’s stage may be small and restricted by its lack of fly tower but designer Richard Evans transforms the space with multiple scene changes to create some incredibly vibrant, bold and colourful places of wonder. The scene changes happen behind backdrops so it doesn’t detract from the performance while also creating an initial sense of wonder at the colour that’s on the stage as each one is revealed.

James Tobias’ script and Gerry Tebbutt’s direction ensure this panto contains every element of a pantomime you can imagine. There’s gallons of audience participation, a sea full of puns and a treasure trove full of fun. They’ve even brought back the traditional throwing of sweets and yes, you may indeed get wet. Don’t try and protect yourself, you’ll get it one way or the other. While the first act would benefit from being tightened up and exploring how Captain Hook manages to find Pan’s hideout, overall it’s a snappy adventure over in Neverland, featuring many of the famous characters that kids and grown-ups alike will know.

A particularly joyful moment is the crocodile. Tebbutt’s direction ensures all elements of the production are immersive and this includes getting rather close to this friendly looking creature.

There are musical numbers galore. Connagh Tonkinson mixes musical favourites from the likes of Matilda and Fame to 80s and 90s pop hits like Man! I Feel Like a Woman and Don’t Stop Me Now. All the songs keep the atmosphere lively and create a place where you can clap, cheer and get into the festive spirit.  There’s also a beautiful moment when Charlotte Fishwick as Wendy performs A Million Dreams as the Darling’s return home.

Corey Jones’ Peter Pan is childlike, excitable and playful. He brings a huge sense of fun to the production and contrasts nicely with Ian Reddington’s sinister and booming voice of Captain Hook. Reddington works the audience well and plays up to the crowd to create a baddie you love to boo.

This is a perfect panto for panto first timers. Its beating heart is an exciting adventure with friendly characters set in a paradise of colour.  Featuring some awesome flying, fantastic choreography and a small yet wonderfully talented ensemble, this brand new Peter Pan panto is a soaring success.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Theatre_Twittic_Value_For_Money_Four_Stars*A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £25. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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