We’ll have to do it again then, won’t we!
Yes, it’s that time of year once again and panto season is well and truly upon us, heralding the approach of Christmas with jeers, cheers and cries of “It’s behind you!”.
The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury slightly veers from the typical pantomime this year with a truly unique take on Peter Pan, but one which pays off magnificently as Paul Hendy’s production is a magical feat of sheer brilliance and wonder.
David Ribi as the adventurous Peter Pan is full of cheek and boyish delight and impresses with his aerial acrobatics as he flies high above the stage, and even the audience at times. He is paired well with the rich-voiced Samantha Dorrance as Wendy. The two are charmingly sweet and endearing in their scenes together and complement each other well in their musical moments.
There are celebrity appearances too from former soap stars Shaun Williamson and Wendi Peters. Williamson takes a devilish delight in playing the bad guy, bringing a dramatic flair to the villainous, but well-dressed, Captain Hook. Peters takes on several roles that include Mrs Darling and a rather unorthodox mermaid, but has the most stage time as chief of the Crazy Horse tribe, Squatting Cow. She shows great versatility and is clearly having fun with each of her characters.
There are also great turns from Tiger Lily (CBBC presenter Gemma Hunt) and Tinkerbell (Jo Osmond) too, not forgetting a strong ensemble team and the wonderful child cast of the two Darling boys, the Red Indians and the Lost Boys.
The real stars of the show however are the returning duo of Ben Roddy and Lloyd Hollett. Roddy is back for his eighth year at the Marlowe Theatre, this time bringing his unrivalled panto dame act to the role of Mrs Smee, while Hollett plays the role of Starkey the pirate in his seventh Marlowe pantomime. The Marlowe Theatre struck comedy gold with these two who play so well off each other and are even funnier in the moments when they go off-script.
This year’s song and dance numbers feature music from the likes of Queen, Britney Spears and the stage musical Wicked – if you ever wanted to see Barry from EastEnders singing Taylor Swift, this is the panto for you. They’re made even more watchable by Jono Kitchens’ well-crafted choreography, not to mention the addition of some awesome fire stunts and the highly impressive acrobatic troupe The Black Eagles.
Look out for the synchronised swimming performance, which will have the audience howling with laughter! Helga Wood and Morgan Brind have done a superb job of bringing the world of Neverland to life with the scale and detail of their sets and the cast costumes – as expected, Roddy models some particularly outrageous costumes throughout the show. The effects used in the production are also rather splendid, with the scene of the children’s flight to Neverland particularly well done. A special mention must also go out to the show’s musical director, Chris Wong.
The Marlowe Theatre’s Peter Pan is not your run-of-the-mill pantomime. While it includes all the necessary ingredients – the bad jokes you can’t help but laugh at, a ‘fat man in a dress’, the corny one-liners and this year’s obligatory Donald Trump quips – it operates at a higher level than most. I’m not just talking about the delivery of every possible fruit, veg and herb pun conceivable either! As has now come to be expected from them, the team of Paul Hendy and Emily Woods have once again created another slick and action-packed production with impressive effects, highly professional choreography and memorable performances from a very talented cast.
For a highly enjoyable evening that will entertain both children and adults alike, The Marlowe Theatre is the place to be this season. Oh yes it is!
Review by Julie Robinson
SHAUN Williamson, Wendi Peters and Gemma Hunt top the bill in Peter Pan, this year’s Marlowe Theatre pantomime. They are joined by Canterbury favourites, Ben Roddy and Lloyd Hollett.
Shaun, a regular visitor to The Marlowe but perhaps best known for his roles in EastEnders and Extras (and more recently Celebrity Big Brother), will play Captain Hook, while Wendi will take on the Mrs Darling/Mia the Mermaid/Big Chief Squatting Cow roles. Wendi, who was Cilla in Coronation Street, currently plays the Cook in the CBBC show, Hetty Feather. Both Shaun and Wendi have extensive theatre experience, including roles in West End musicals.
Gemma (Tiger Lily) presents the popular CBeebies show, Swashbuckle. Ben once again plays the Dame, this year Mrs Smee, while Lloyd is Starkey. David Ribi, who is the main presenter on Channel 5’s Milkshake, will play Peter Pan, while Samantha Dorrance (the female lead in CBeebies’ The Tale of Mister Tumble) is Wendy. Jo Osmond (Dr Who, Maleficent) plays Tinkerbell.
FRI 24 NOV 2017 – SUN 14 JAN 2018
The Marlowe Theatre
Kent, CT1 2AS