Peter Pan Panto 2014

Bring the Kids to the Panto

If you don’t have kids or grandkids, borrow someone else’s and head to Grand Bend.  My guess is that anyone in the 4 to 10 age range is going to love the Peter Pan panto, now on stage at Playhouse II.  And it is so much fun watching the kids enjoy themselves!

It’s the familiar Peter Pan story – Peter invites the Darling children to travel with him to Never Never Land, where the nasty Captain Hook tries to destroy him.  In this version, the lovely Delilah, Captain Hook’s ship’s cook, (say that 10 times fast) hangs out with a crew of not-so-bright pirates, and some dancing pirate ladies.  There are also a gang of Lost Boys (they fell out of their strollers as babies), mermaids, and Tiger Lily and the Indians.  The Darling children have a nanny, a darling sheep dog (Christine Watson), and Captain Hook’s nemesis is the evil crocodile (Rachel Clark).

But this version of the familiar story is put together as a British panto.  That’s where the characters talk directly to the audience and it’s perfectly acceptable for audience members to yell out in reply.  When Peter Pan asks “Where’s Tinkerbell?” the kids scream out the answer. And when Captain Hook, the epitome of evil, comes on stage everyone is encouraged to shout “Booooooooooo” loud and long.  Some children are even invited on stage to join in the fun.

The songs will be familiar, borrowed from other popular shows—“Consider Yourself” from Oliver!, Little Mermaid songs, and Peter Pan and his shadow do a brief dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Act II opens with the Neverland version of A Chorus Line, where Captain Hook is the “one” sensation.  And of course, when the crocodile is the victor in the end, everyone celebrates with Crocodile Rock. Peter Pan 2014

The script is littered with groaners, some for kids, and a few designed to keep the adults amused. “Rob Ford – That guy cracks me up.”  Or the Judge with no thumbs; his name is Justice Fingers.

Thom Allison steals the show as Captain Hook.  Allison is known as a judge in the CBC reality show that picked Dorothy for Wizard of Oz.  As Captain Hook, he is nasty, smarmy and funny, and the audience loves to hate him.

Aiden deSalaiz provides the comedy as the lovely Delilah. She/he spends time flirting with the men in the audience and having fun with the children, with perfect comedic timing and hilarious improv.

Traditional casting has a female in the role of Peter – A.J. Bridel plays Peter and has the fun of flying overhead.

The ensemble has amazing dance moves; credit goes to Director/Choreographer David Connolly.  And a large cast (who perform at alternate shows) of children bring lots of fun and energy to the stage.

This is typically a panto one might see at Christmas time – in Grand Bend, it’s a nicely wrapped gift for the whole family, as we celebrate Christmas in August.

Peter Pancontinues with eight shows a week until August 30 at Huron Country Playhouse, Playhouse II, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com

Photo: Thom Allison as Captain Hook and the cast of Peter Pan, photo by John Sharp.

Peter Pan:  A traditional British Panto
Written by Simon Aylin & Trudy Moffatt
Directed & Choreographed by David Connolly
Performed by A.J. Bridel, Thom Allison, Aidan deSalaiz, et al
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Playhouse II, Grand Bend
August 7 to 30, 2014
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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