A dancing dog, a right-on feminist and a pirate singing a rap song and twerking! It can only be the Key Theatre panto in Peterborough back to its very best.
Yes, Simon Egerton’s take on Peter Pan had all the necessary ingredients for great panto ... and an unexpected little bit more.
Anthony Hoggard in the Dame role - Nanny Goggins- is a Key Theatre debutant and he wasted no time making a terrific impression on the Peterborough audience. A no-nonsense, understated performance that set the tone right away. No real stand-up gags, but he was great all night and left you waiting on his next stage appearance.
His was one of several wonderfully crafted characters, to be fair.
Peter - the principal boy played by a girl - got the best out of Rebecca Levy.
She had a great stage presence, sang and danced well, and had a very natural rapport with the talented young ensemble - The Lost Children. A great fit.
Katie Pritchard’s Tinkerbell was bright, bubbly and effervescent while Josh Haberfield as Little Johnnie - the butt of a lot of the humour - played it for laughs and was guaranteed to raise a smile. Both very watchable.
Convincingly performed by Sarah Workman, Wendy was another well written character - a feminist with views ahead of her time (equal rights for women?). Who thought you could tackle “crass gender stereotypes” in a panto?
And take a bow Richard Costello, whose Captain Hook was for me a revelation.
The music throughout (played by the cast) was excellent and I loved the songs - some new, some well known and tweaked - but Hook singing Drake’s “God’s Plan” was just top class.
Robin Johnson (Barnacle Bill) and Francesca Fenech (Dolores Smee) were a terrific double-act as Hook’s partners in crime. Their portrayal of pirates with a penchant for musical theatre (continually breaking into stage song) was genius. Though if anyone (apart from my wife) got the Summer Strallen reference I will be amazed.
Chuck in a bundle of corny local references, puppets, some ad-libs and audience banter and you have got a real feel-good panto that left me wanting more.
Review: Brad Barnes
Peter Pan runs until January 6. Go to vivacity.org for tickets.