Written by Simon Aylin and Trudy Moffatt
Directed and Choreographed by Trudy Moffatt
Musical direction by Peter Aylin
Performed by Jonny Wexler, Paul McQuillan, Keith Savage, Fred Stinson, Jayme Armstrong, Tess Benger et al.
Drayton Entertainment Production
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse
November 18 to December 19, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
The Crocodile Rocks at Neverland
Gather up the kids and grandkids and take the trip to St. Jacobs to see Drayton Entertainment’s version of Peter Pan. While it’s guaranteed to keep children entertained, there are enough jokes aimed at the adults to make it fun for all ages. In pantomime tradition, the characters talk directly to the audience while audience talks back and gets involved. The humour is over-the-top silly, and the opening night audience loved it.
The fun begins when Peter Pan soars over the Darling family and on to the stage. Jonny Wexler as Peter is perfect in a pantomime. His experience performing live as Moe Doodle of The Doodlebops is very apparent, as he talks to the children in the audience and draws them into the story. His shining smile charms the younger crowd and his pop-singing ability shows when he belts out Elton John’s Crocodile Rock.
Fred Stinson as the friendly pirate, Smee, is also a favourite with the kids. Stinson is a veteran of many children’s shows, and plays Major Bedhead on the Big Comfy Couch. He whips up the audience participation, getting everyone to shout out and bringing kids on the stage.
Paul McQuillan plays a flustered Mr. Darling and a villainous Captain Hook. In fact, he’s so nasty that he is roundly booed and hissed every time he steps on the stage. Much of the comedy is created around his inept bunch of sissified pirates and his frustration in getting them in line. McQuillan can be proud of the booing – the more the kids boo, the more they love to hate him!
Keith Savage, always a darling of the Drayton audiences, is delightful as Delilah, Captain Hook’s cook. Savage looks wonderfully ridiculous in a crinoline-filled skirt, striped socks and high-heeled boots. As always, his comedic timing is spot on with his delivery of clever quips.
Jayme Armstrong is delightful as both Mrs. Darling and Tiger Lily, and Tess Benger is a wonderful Wendy, a perfect little mother to the lost boys. Both young women have superb voices and provide the best vocal numbers in the show.
Special mention goes to Bethany Kovarik as Nanna the dog, and Sarah Matton as the Crocodile, for their amusing interpretations of the animals’ personalities.
Rounding out the cast are some amazing high-energy dancers, as well as children from an area dance studio. In addition to the adorable performances of Erik Weinhart as John Darling and Christopher Jones as Michael Darling, there are very cute lost boys.
The show is filled with familiar tunes – Captain Hook’s ego shines in “One Singular Sensation”, and Peter and lost boys have fun with “Consider Yourself At Home”.
While the sets are almost too simple, the boat and waterskiing scene stand out, and the map of Neverland is effective. Costumes, for the most part, are of the traditional Peter Pan type. However, Wendy’s bright blue dress seems oddly out of place when you’d expect her to be wearing a pastel nightie. While the flying is well done – Peter lands lightly on the fireplace mantle and no one bumps into anyone else mid-air – the costumes bunched up a little too much where the lines were attached.
Nevertheless, Neverland provides a wonderful get-away. It’s a great trip of laughter and fun. Go, even if you don’t have a kid to take along.
Peter Pan continues with eight shows a week until December 19 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Tickets are available from Drayton Entertainment at 1-888-449-4463, or check out www.draytonentertainment.com