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Where’s me mates? Here we are! The inimitable Mark James returns to Malvern Theatres after an unplanned break for the car crash that was 2020. This year’s panto is Peter Pan. But look out Neverland, Captain Hook is back! It’s time for a Swashbuckling adventure with all our favourite characters. Despite everything we’ve all been through over the past twelve months, the cast and crew have done themselves proud. This might even be the best one yet.
Peter Pan Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: The story
Neverland is a little bit different these days. Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are still besties but the Lost Boys have moved on and grown up. Smee is now captain of the Jolly Roger and earning an honest living having put his pirate days behind him. And of course, after being defeated and forced to walk the plank, Captain Hook is long dead. Or is he? Tinkerbell recognises the signs that Hook is back, but Peter is convinced that he’s at the bottom of the sea.
Meanwhile in London, Wendy has also grown up. In fact, she’s got very, very old. 104 years old to be precise. When Tinkerbell goes to fetch Wendy to talk some sense into Peter, she finds her great, great granddaughter, Emily instead. Despite being glued to her iPhone, Emily is up for an adventure and heads for Neverland to lend a hand.
When Hook shows up in Neverland to take back control of the Jolly Roger, Smee quickly loses his captaincy and his hat. Hook sets out to get his revenge on Peter Pan. Smee, Peter and the mermaids are horrified when he kidnaps Tinkerbell but Emily is on hand to help, with her secret weapon. One of Peter’s kisses that he gave to Wendy many years ago. When the acorn kiss gets cracked, it becomes a whistle that Emily uses to call the TikTok Croc.
Songs, dances and jokes galore run through the production. Panto favourites like Ghostbusters and “It’s behind you!” combine with topical gags. Even my seven and nine year old understood some of the political quips. As always, there are plenty of humorous references just for the adults too.
Peter Pan Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: The cast and crew
Unusually for a panto, there was no chorus. This was a shame because it’s always lovely to see local children taking part, especially when the theatre offers open auditions rather than favouring one dance school. It’s an amazing opportunity for kids who see their future on the stage. However, that wasn’t to be this year due to concerns about covid. Instead, there was a very small but brilliant cast of adults.
Malvern panto regular Mark James was wonderful as ever as Smee, and Tom Lister of Emmerdale fame stole the show as Captain Hook. His friendly, charismatic manner made Captain Hook a surprisingly likeable villain. Art Attack host Lloyd Warby launches a different kind of attack as Peter Pan, showing off his swashbuckling swordsmanship to take on Hook. Rebecca Stenhouse dons a pair of roller skates to embody the magical Tinker Bell, while Jenny Huxley-Golden portrays iPhone addict Emily Darling.
The rest of the small cast have dual roles, with Natalie Hollingworth playing both Mrs Darling and a mermaid. Jack Robbins, Andy Rothwell and Ben Tanner play the hilarious nitwits and pirate crew. Doubling as pirates and household staff are Simon Fish, Ben Sell, Amelia Brown, Ellie-Grace Cousins and Imogen Sharp.
The production was directed by Simon Greiff and produced by Martin Dodd, with Tom Self as musical director. Costumes were by Elizabeth Dennis, the production director was Andy Batty. Anthony Williams was Executive Pantomime Director while Damian Sandys was artistic producer and general manager.
Peter Pan Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: The verdict
My husband and I both felt that this was the most enjoyable pantomime we’ve seen to date. There were a few issues with the sound, which is to be expected on opening night and I’m sure they’ll soon be ironed out. But apart from that, my only complaint was that my face ached from smiling by the end of the night. The cast and audience were all clearly delighted to be back in the theatre. Everyone was joining in, from adult-only groups to families with young children.
As always, a couple of audience members were picked on by Mark James. If you’re not into audience participation or getting wet, I wouldn’t advise sitting on the front row. Full of well known songs, relatable humour and light-hearted banter, this production is not to be missed.
My children were both delighted by the show and laughed along throughout. Their perspective on it was slightly different to ours though. Whilst they had a great time as always, the fact that this year’s show didn’t have children in meant that they didn’t love it quite as much as normal. I was quite surprised by this, but they are both very keen performers themselves and see children in the chorus as a real inspiration. It’s something they see themselves doing in the future so they’re crossing their fingers for open auditions next year.
What you need to know
- When is Peter Pan Pantomime at Malvern Theatres? The production runs from 9th December 2021 to 2nd January 2022
- Where to buy tickets: Tickets are available from the Malvern Theatres website.
- How long does Pan Pantomime at Malvern Theatres last? We went to a 7pm performance that started a few minutes late. We left the theatre at about 9.55 pm. There was an interval lasting about 20 minutes.
- Do you need to wear masks in Malvern Theatres? From 9th December 2021, face coverings are mandatory (unless exempt) when entering and when seated in the theatre and cinema.
- Relaxed performance: There will be a relaxed performance of the pantomime at 10am on 31st December 2021.