Monday, 10 July 2017

THE ADVENTURES OF PETER PAN AND TINKER BELL - the most magical musical pantomime!

Pantomime, although well known in the United kingdom, is still a largely unknown theatre style to Australian theatre going audiences. Fortunately Bonnie Lythgoe, in presenting her 4th pantomime in Australia, is doing something about this unfortunate situation.

THE ADVENTURES OF PETER PAN AND TINKER BELL in RETURN TO PANTOLAND opened in Sydney on Friday night to a packed theatre for a short 2 week run before it flies down to Melbourne.

The audience was filled with an appreciative audience of children, parents and grand parents. Bonnie hopes that children will come along and see this pantomime so that they can have a fun introduction to live theatre. She does not want children just to sit in a theatre seat not moving, talking, or responding to what happens on stage. She holds the belief that theatre should be fun, enjoyable, and an enriching experience for all who go along and see a show.

This Adventures of Peter Pan pantomime certainly proves that live theatre can be fun for children (and adults). You just have to hear the children's laughter, screaming out and booing to see how they get wrapped up in Peter Pan. Pantomime is really about audience participation, and this Peter Pan pantomime has lots of audience participation. 

The Adventures of Peter Pan is set in London in the early 1900s and starts off in the home of the Darling family. The magical boy Peter Pan flies into the children's bedroom looking for his lost shadow. With the help of his fairy friend, Tinker Bell, he teaches the three Darling children - Wendy, John and Michael to fly. He takes them to far-off Never Land where they have many adventure with fairies, Indians, Lost Boys, mermaids, and pirates led by Captain Hook and his sidekick Smee.

The amazing cast of Peter Pan is all Australian, except Kev Orkian who is from the U.K. and plays the role of Smee. I have seen him in some of the other Bonnie Lythgoe pantomimes and he is excellent. He brings his vast experience of pantomime work in the U.K. to Peter Pan. He provides a vital link to the scenes and sets the comedic tone of the pantomime with his one-liners and perfect sense of timing.

The standout individual performer of THE ADVENTURES OF PETER PAN AND TINKER BELL is Todd McKenney, who plays the dual role of Mr Darling and Captain Hook. He is the likeable/nasty Captain Hook that the audience loves booing, even though one child yelled out that she loves him. He is well known as a judge of Dancing with the Stars, and for his portrayal of Peter Allen in the musical The Boy From Oz. He brings with him his vast experience of TV and stage work so he knows how to engage the audience. His dancing and singing skills come to the fore with his portrayal of Captain Hook. He is very quick with his one liners and ad libbing.

The four Pirates steal the show with their carrying ons. Matt Geronimi, Michael Stone, Rick Pragnell and Jay Johns work well as a team but also bring out their own individual personalities. They are a laugh a minute.

Tim Maddren of Hi 5 fame plays Peter, the mischievous boy from Never Land who never grows up. Tim sings and acts well, and makes Peter both charming and funny. He has fun on stage, even using a water pistol.

Jamie Hadwen plays the cute fairy Tinker Bell. She will go to any length to help Peter as she glides across the stage on her roller skates. Befitting her name, she wears a cute costume with bells around the bottom of the skirt that always tinkle.

Katrina Retallick plays the dual role of Mrs Darling and Mimi the Magic Mermaid. These two roles are very different from each other, with Mrs Darling being a sweet English person (think Mary Poppins) and the Mermaid being a very Ocker character (think Jeanie Little or Kath and Kim).

The Darling children Wendy (Ksenia Zofis), John and Michael, are good in their roles of children that fly to a far away land full of adventures. 

Robyn Loau, former lead singer of Australia’s biggest girl group Girlfriend, plays Tiger Lilly.

Even though though Peter Pan is only playing for a short season in each city, its production values are very high. The glittering sets and gorgeous fairytale costumes are sourced from the UK. There are spectacular effects throughout the show, with even Peter Pan and the children flying above the stage.

The stage lighting uses many and varied lighting affects that bring the song and dance numbers to life. 

The fantastic songs in the show are a mix of original songs written especially for the show and well known chart-topping pop tunes. Even though I was unfamiliar with some of the songs, my (adult) children who were with me knew them all.

The dance numbers are a mixture of dance styles, with the four Lost Boys performing very acrobatic dance moves. Unfortunately, on opening night one was so enthusiastic that he ended up hurting himself and was unable to carry on for the rest of the show. Hopefully he gets better soon and is on the stage for the rest of the performances.  

For the first time my three children, age in their 20's, accompanied me to see a show at the theatre. It was their first pantomime, so I was anxious to see if they liked the show or not. I can say they loved it. They really liked the infectious comedy and audience participation aspects of The Adventures of Peter Pan. I could hear them laughing out loud along with the rest of the audience. Some of the jokes were rude, some crude, some not very funny, but the vast majority of them were hilarious. The 12 Days song had everyone in stitches.

The great sets, costumes, singing and dance numbers, hysterically funny comedy and loads of audience participation make THE ADVENTURES OF PETER PAN AND TINKER BELL in RETURN TO PANTOLAND a great show for people of all ages to see. Make sure you get along to see it when it is in Sydney or Melbourne.

Bonnie Lythgoe Productions presents


7 - 16 July 
State Theatre, 49 Market Street, Sydney
Tickets: $62.75 – $77.75 (Family $281.00)
Bookings: 1300 139 588

21 – 30 July
Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne\
Tickets: $79.95 – $59.95
Bookings:  1300 11 10 11

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