Review – Peter Pan A Musical Adventure

Peter Pan A Musical Adventure – Music by George Styles, Lyrics by Anthony Drew and book by Willis Hall – Co-op Juniors at Trinity Park till July 14th

Peter Pan was my favourite story as a child – and this production of the Styles/ Drew version brings it to life with colour, imaginative staging and a touch of magic.

Interestingly the Co-op Juniors last production, Honk!, recently performed at Seckford Theatre,  was written by the same partnership –who also wrote Babe and the recent West End hit of Mary Poppins.

There have been many, many productions of Peter Pan over the years. This version takes the most important markers and scenes in the story and turns them into a musical spectacular – with lots for the ensemble to do and a chance for many of the performers to shine.

Performed in a circus Big Top – Director and Choreographer Oliver Brett has imaginatively decided to anchor the production in the idea of a dream sequence, use nursery furniture for props and set – so a huge central bed becomes a means of transport, a hiding place, the Lost Boy’s home and Hook’s Pirate ship. Smaller beds allow the characters to ‘fly’ and puppets are made from lamp shades , floor mops and an old pram. Even Tiger Lilly’s bow is made from two coathangers.

This does give space for the large cast to express themselves and make the most of the chorus numbers. Especially beautiful was the Siren Song set under the sea with mermaids and jelly fish all made from hat stands and light shades.

Henry Skillern is very strong as Peter Pan – looking exactly right for the part and with a great voice he commanded the stage throughout. Well matched is Courtney Yule as a feisty Wendy. Chris Evens is an almost pantomime Captain Hook – but he gives it his all – although I could have done with a bit more of a toned down Mr Darling, whom he doubles up on character.

Hook’s crew are brilliant – an incredible set of costumes and some great teamwork creating distinctive characters that worked well as a whole. Especially good was Mia Fisk as Smee.

A mention too for Ailani Cochrane, whose Tiger Lily lit up the stage and added value to every scene she was in.

This was a very well rehearsed and executed show with strong musical number under the hand of Musical Director Jo King, an impressive lighting design by Callum Macdonald and a set that was simple yet really worked for the whole cast. I especially liked the idea of using three actors with lights to conjure up the fairy Tinkerbell.

The show is a bit long at 2 and a half hours, especially for small children, and I thought it was a shame there were not more boys in the cast to balance things out – or to see some actual rig flying given the performance was staged in a Big Top.

Nevertheless this is a very entertaining show with superb performances from all the cast and an incredibly well drilled crew under the direction of Alan Ayres and Stage Manager Rob Kirk who made sure everything worked technically perfect without a hitch.

I found it moving as well as funny, with plenty of ‘wow’ factors – so would urge you to go and support this very talented company. But take a cushion for those hard seats!

Suzanne Hawkes

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