YOU could have measured the audience excitement on a seismograph at the Octagon on Saturday, when the band struck up for the annual pantomime and the lights went down.
Peter Pan, the fifth production by Evolution at the venue, has everything – a strong story, colourful characters, romance, jealousy, songs, dances and just enough topical jokes to keep the grouchy grown-ups entertained.
The irrepressible Jack Glanville returns as Smee, butler in London and pirate in Neverland, with larger-than-life Jack Edwards as Mrs Starkey and Andrew Fettes as the dastardly Capt Hook. Diminutive Jo Osmond is a delightful Tinkerbell and Samantha Dorrance her rival in Peter-love Wendy.
Sadly the prodigiously talented Scott Sutcliffe, in the title role, doesn’t get his photo on the front of the programme. His wide-ranging and musical singing voice means he can move from rap to boy band to Sondheim with ease. His flying is (of course) essential to the plot, and he’s no slouch as an actor, either.
Lizzie Frances returns this year as Mrs Darling and Squatting Cow, and four local boys, Joshua Beaumont, Madison Parks-Keirle, James Bamford and Ashley MacLauchlan, share the roles of Michael and John Darling over the pantomime run, which continues to 1st January. There are more local youngsters as Lost Boys, mermaids, pirates and Indians.
Jacks Glanville and Edwards provide another of those super-clever routines that rely on lists of items, this year fishes. And they are back in one of the late lamented Chris Harris’s most popular routines – the one with the ghost and the bench. A real golden oldie.
The audience particpation song is fast and fun, and no danger of embarrassment, and of course family love wins over preening stupidity and cruelty – yes there was a mention of the president-elect … the first of many in the season, I suspect.
Tickets for this Peter Pan have out-sold all its Octagon pantomimic predecessors, so if you haven’t booked, you had better do so quickly. This really is a show for all the family over the holiday period.
For more details, visit the Octagon website.