Review: Peter Pan casts a magical spell

21 Nov 2013 @ 10.36 am
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Flying high: the cast of Peter Pan
Flying high: the cast of Peter Pan

Review: Peter Pan by Pick Me Up Theatre
Venue: Grand Opera House, York, November 20, 2013

Pick Me Up Theatre have staged a delightful musical version of Peter Pan, entrancing the audience with this familiar tale.

There is a large cast with a good mix of professionals and local amateurs, bringing the story to life through song and dance.

There were a number of standout performers during the evening, starting with Oscar Roger playing the paper boy in the first scene. You could hear other audience members commenting on how authentic he was, running around the stage shouting to come and get your paper.

The set was very simple and dual height, with a stunning backdrop of starlight, but they used even more of the stage by introducing flying to the mix. Sadly the Grand Opera House has limited stage space which led to a few unintentional laughs as Peter flew into a wall trying to exit the stage, and Tinkerbell nearly decapitated poor Mrs Darling when the cast were taking their bows. Luckily no one was hurt.

The young boys flying in their nightshirts looked like they were being strangled by their clothing in the bedroom scene. It was very surreal watching several cast members singing as they hung suspended from the ceiling as they portrayed the journey to Neverland.

I’m surprised there were no sprained ankles as the cast leapt from one level of the stage to the other at times, with drops that looked to be of a rather dangerous height from the safety of our seats.

Whilst the majority of the costumes were clever and well thought out poor Nana, well played by Sam Hird, had us laughing in the full size dog suit more reminiscent of a charity run than a stage costume.

The audience also enjoyed the cleverly constructed crocodile head that appeared to be powered by two girls on bicycles with locked steering and very little room for manoeuvre. They certainly earned their cheer when the cast came on stage at the end.

The lost boys were full of energy and my daughter commented that Tootles (Daniel McGuiness) could give Jedward a run for their money in the hair stakes.

The Lost Boys rendition of Build A House was really good, their voices blending together well.

Several audience members commented on Coraleigh Hobson’s performance as Tiger Lily: she has a strong stage presence and was extremely convincing as the leader of the Indian Braves.

Off on their adventure
Off on their adventure

Jonny Holbeck who plays pirate Smee is in his last performance in York before jetting off to Australia. I’m still trying to work out quite what accent he had, I’m thinking a Cornish lilt perhaps – and hoping he doesn’t have a bad back after spending the entire performance hunched over, even whilst running around the stage.

He was a perfect sidekick for Hook and very popular – I particularly liked his stripy ankle socks!

The pirates were very entertaining, be they walking backwards across the stage to confuse the Indian trackers, or dancing in kilts. Chloe Shipley was certainly the best looking pirate in her waistcoat, shorts and thigh high boots.

Wendy (Lauren Sheriston) and Mrs Darling (Alicia Roberts) had beautiful voices.

Peter, played by Jed Berry, was full of energy and fizz, with his glittery hair and stripy short pyjamas, and he never stayed still. His last scene in the nursery, where Wendy has grown old, was actually quite sad.

The finale, There’s Always Tomorrow, saw the whole cast on stage, and the blend of the main and backing singers was wonderful.

For me the star of the show has to be Nik Briggs who, whilst he was entertaining as Mr Darling, stole the show as Captain Hook.

He strutted across the stage in his clinging black tights and thigh high boots (I’m jealous he has better legs than me!), and gave a hilarious and convincing performance. I think it’s safe to say he’s my favourite Captain Hook ever.

His melancholy sigh opening the second half and his duet with Smee, Pirate With A Conscience were just a couple of the highlights in the second half.

This was a wonderful show, well received by the audience, and remember…

“It’s second to the right and straight on till morning.”