Dear Mummy, visiting the theatre at Christmas time is becoming quite a tradition for our little family. Recently we watched Peter Pan at The Anvil in Basingstoke which had me ‘hooked’ from the very start. I love the story of Peter Pan, the boy who doesn’t grow up who lives with his gang of Lost Boys in Neverland. I was ready to be transported to another world.
Peter Pan is one of the most famous and best-loved children’s stories and I was eager to see the pantomime unfold. The theatre was buzzing with people all excited to experience the performance, a mixture of club trips, families with young children and grandparents as well. A lot of people had donned Christmas jumpers and festive wear which added to the atmosphere.
Programmes were available and made a great souvenir with details about the cast and future attractions at The Anvil. My folks brought sweets and hot drinks to take into the auditorium and booster seats were put out for all the children to sit on.
Director Andrew Agnew’s production of Peter Pan was a real cracker and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Even my folks who are seasoned theatre goers found it highly entertaining and fast paced. We loved the stage design and pyrotechnics. From zip wires to clever screen lighting it was a real feast for the eyes and my folks watched my wide-eyed face throughout the performance.
We sat in prime position in Row G right in front of the stage. We could feel the heat from the fire pyrotechnics, we got soaked with water from the water pistols of Hook and Smee and got fairy dust sprinkled on us at the end. Characters from the show ran past our seats and I even got a high-five from one of the Lost Boys.
I was mesmerised by local children from North Hampshire Academy of Dance, Basingstoke Academy of Dancing and stage schools playing parts of the lost boys, pirate crew, mermaids and indians. It was a very talented bunch of juniors who could remember all of the dance routines and lines. I studied them very carefully, especially as I attend Stagecoach, who knows I could grace the stage too…watch this space.
Julian Lane’s script didn’t stray from the original story of Peter Pan and we followed Wendy, John and Michael Darling as they meet Tiger Lily and the Indians, the Lost Boys, and the impish Tinker Bell. Of course Captain Hook drew ‘Boos’ from the audience as his motley crew battled the children. The added bonus was the intelligent jokes which had adults smirking and musical scores which appealed to a younger generation which were bang on trend. We were most impressed with Tiger Lily’s Little Mix interpretation of Power, a song that came out earlier in the year.
There were also a couple of nods to the X-Factor and the Britain’s Got Talent generation which raised a smile. Along with Smee’s rendition of Justin Bieber Dispatch and Hook’s version of Bruno Mars 24 Magic or ‘ 24 Carat Hook up in the Air’ the cast had the audience bopping away in the stalls and singing along. All the actors were strong and we were really impressed with Laura Harrison who played Tiger Lily with the powerhouse of a voice.
The stars of the show have to be Gary Turner who played Captain Hook and Andrew Agnew who plays Smee as well as the taking on the role of Director. Woweeee what a talented guy! I loved the character of Hook and he was clearly a seasoned professional poking fun at himself when his sword was stuck in his belt. He had the crowd hissing and booing and some of his one liners were fantastic. Especially the social media gag ‘You Twit Face’ and his dating app ‘Shiver Me Tinders’.
West End Star Jessica Punch took the title role and made a fab Peter Pan. She was super athletic flying around in the air and running across the stage, climbing and sword fighting against her arch-enemy Captain Hook. Sarah Louise Day played prim Mrs Darling and the flirty Mermaid and her rendition of Hushabye Mountain was so beautiful that it nearly brought a tear to my mummy’s eye as I sat clutching her hand.
I loved all the acrobatics from Hook’s pirate crew, and the high-flying antics of Peter Pan, whose flights above the audience were scary! Smee was an engaging host getting the audience participating in pirate songs with hand actions, chatting to kids on the stage and tumbling with his prate crew.
My favourite character was Tinker Bell played by Helen Petrofina who was spectacular on roller-skates as she whirled around the stage but the real surprise was how such a powerful voice could come out of someone so small and delicate.
We thought this was great adaptation on J.M. Barrie’s classic story and would definitely recommend this pantomime. You can still fly away to Neverland with Peter Pan at The Anvil from Thursday 14 December 2017 to Sunday 7 January 2018. Ticket prices vary depending on performance. For more information or for tickets, call the Anvil Arts box office on 01256 844244 or visit the Anvil Arts website anvilarts.org.uk. Two more pantomimes are coming up at The Anvil, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White – we can’t wait!
Love Bella x
Disclosure: We were offered tickets in order to review the show, all purchases were our own.