Culture Writer Vandra Mejudhon reviews Peter Pan The Musical, praising the performances of the cast in this festive production

Written by Vandra Mejudhon

Peter Pan is a Christmas favourite of mine, so I was excited to be given the opportunity to see Peter Pan The Musical. Based on the novel by J.M Barrie, director Alec Fellows-Bennett promises ‘captivating costumes’ and ‘spectacular songs’ for an ‘unforgettable theatrical extravaganza.’

The musical introduces the Darling children – Wendy (Rhian Lynch), John (Morag Mayland), and little Michael (Daniel Gaulder) – and their adventures with Peter Pan (Thea Jo-Wolfe) in Neverland, as well as telling the story of their encounters with the Lost Boys and pirates. 

The plot of the production is partially faithful to the book, leaving out mermaids and adding a few characters, but this does not hinder the plot; with great pacing, it remains a delightful production, eliciting a nostalgic experience. The sets are visually delightful, from the cosy fireplace of the Darlings’ house, to the exotic island of Neverland. However, unexpected breaks in the sets allow the audience to catch glimpses of behind-the-scenes activity whenever someone flies. 

The sets are visually delightful

The entire cast displays great enthusiasm, and the production is overall casted well. The gender swapping of Jo-Wolfe playing Peter Pan does not affect the musical negatively in the slightest; if anything, it improves the overall performance thanks to Jo-Wolfe’s vocal range and faithfulness in portraying the character. Penny Ashmore (playing Starkey/Mrs. Darling) deserves a special mention: her vocal talent shines through as she delivers beautiful harmonies with an impressive range that adds an extra layer of magic to the experience.

The writing is witty and remains engaging throughout, avoiding any lengthy pieces of exposition as the storyline progresses through song. The musical numbers add moments that are both joyful and bittersweet, such as a callback to the 2003 film wherein the cast encourages the audience to sing and clap with the song, creating a sense of shared joy. The final moment of the play between Peter and Wendy when they say goodbye is a particularly touching moment, adding depth to the relationship between the two. The choreography is simple but dynamic, engaging effortlessly with the performers’ vocals.

Peter Pan The Musical is a nostalgia-filled magical adventure

Some of the costume design is brilliantly done and shows great attention to detail, such as Wendy’s pastel blue dress – its short puffed sleeves and ruffles reflect the innocence and purity of her character. Tiger Lily (Keosha Riley) has beautiful tinsel in her hair, which adds dimension and a bit of magic onstage. However, other costumes, such as those belonging to the Lost Boys’, fall short of expectations, being underwhelming compared to others. The puppetry of the crocodile is particularly impressive, with its glowing yellow eyes and fluid motions alongside the great sound effects of the infamous clock, yet Nana’s design fell rather flat, creating quite a jarring disparity between the two.

Overall, Peter Pan The Musical is a nostalgia-filled magical adventure, and, although some promises are left unfulfilled, it is a festive treat for the season. 

Peter Pan The Musical is playing at The Old Rep Theatre until Sunday 31st December 2023

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