Peter Pan – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

As a regular to pantomimes, I snapped at the chance to watch Peter Pan at the Mayflower this Christmas. JM Barrie’s Peter Pan has undergone several changes on its way to becoming a regular part of the pantomime canon but has firmly established itself as a fan favourite. When the overture starts, an excited hush descends on the audience, and the curtain rises on Peter Pan. With a star-filled cast, astounding production design and sparkling humour, it proves to be a hit for all the family.

The show begins with the Darling Children playing on the rooftops of Southampton, desperate for an adventure to Neverland. Enter Peter Pan (Jaymi Hensley) and his fairy Tinkerbell (Kellie Gnauck) and what follows is an adventure with everything you’d expect from Peter Pan and more. The cast is wonderful, bringing real energy to the Mayflower stage. Hensley is in fine voice as Peter Pan, showcasing some brilliant vocals and charm as he flies around the stage. He really was a joy to watch. Kellie Gnauck sparkles as Tinkerbell and very quickly becomes a firm favourite of the audience with her excellent vocals and bubbly personality.

Star rating this year goes to pop legend Marti Pellow taking on the role of the evil Captain Hook. Pellow has the dastardly lines, the dastardly gestures and the dastardly look about him. He even wrote a couple of original songs for the show which I really liked. Darren Day is delightful as an undercover Smee. Some hilarious highlights to look out for is a clever routine based on the flags of different countries and a tongue-twisting performance were he repeatedly tries to say ‘sits and shines, shines and sits’ without actually swearing in front of the children, although he is not alway successful. I particularly enjoyed his song sheet, but I guess that’s because I still find fart jokes funny. It’s also worth mentioning that The Timbuktu Tumblers acrobatic skills are genuinely breath-taking and The Grumbleweeds perform some very funny, but very questionable routines involving rollerskates.

The panto displays the high quality that has come to be associated with QDOS Entertainment. The costumes sparkle, the sets are spectacular, and Twin FX have created some truly magical moments such as the appearance of the crocodile, a moving pirate ship, and a flying moped. One thing that sets the Southampton pantomime apart from others is the direction/choreography and Andrew Wrights’ efforts should be applauded as he kept the whole show moving seamlessly along with exciting lifts and high-energy routines.

Peter Pan is magical, mystical, mind-blowing and a must-see this Christmas. Worth seeing in case the crocodile comes for you if you don’t go!

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