Culture Writer Catalina Perez reviews the musical adaption of Peter Pan, and finds the performance to be an immersive and entertaining experience
The new revival of Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure is a charming and endearing take on the beloved tale, and is currently being hosted by the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. Based on the book by writer Willis Hall, this amateur production captures the innocence and ingenuity of the source material and delivers it with charisma, sweetness, and humour.
We are introduced to Peter Pan (Fergus Edwards), a playful and mischievous boy who, while looking for his lost shadow meets Wendy (Maddie Evans), John (Joseph Dowen) and Michael (Jett Austin-Richards), the children of the Darling family. The three of them (accompanied by the fairy Tinker Bell) decide to travel to Neverland, the place where Peter Pan comes from. There, they have an array of adventures and meet the Lost Boys, mermaids, and a group of threatening pirates, among others.
The plot can become a bit slow at parts, but in general is well paced and easy to follow, especially if one has a previous relation with the other versions of the tale. Namely, it follows a very similar storyline to the 1953 Disney adaptation, therefore, fans of the animated movie will find it familiar but not repetitive. The additional musical numbers help to expand some narratives and characters, in particular, the development of the character of Mrs Darling (Lydia Hackett), the mother of the three siblings, is a touching and relatable addition to the argument, expressed through a very emotional ballad and a very impressive singing performance.
The singing performances are well achieved, with a special mention to the two young leads of the play Maddie Evans and Joseph Dowen (Peter Pan and Wendy), both of whom accomplish the emotional and physical requirements of their roles successfully. However, the choreography lacks complexity, and some of the acts can become monotone after a while.
In terms of acting, the cast delivers an enthusiastic portrayal of the roles. A lot of the actors are actual children of different ages, which makes it not only more genuine and adorable, but also easier to get caught up in the fantasy of a world where kids do not grow up. To build this world, the play also takes full advantage of special effects. There are numerous flying sequences, interesting use of lighting to create characters and shift moods and some acrobatics that make it an even more immersive experience. Plus, there is a real life St. Bernard dog playing the part of Nana!
The acting and singing of the children is remarkable, and the adults too play an important part of the success for this production. Some of the highlights include the hilarious dialogues between Captain Hook (Dan Smith) and Smee (Zachary Hollinshead) and a big final revelation, delivered by The Storyteller (Amy Frost).
Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure is a joyful and wholesome production, especially designed to be an immersive and entertaining experience for young children, who will want to get out of the theatre and start flying just like Peter Pan.
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