Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
When is a pantomime not a pantomime? That is what we were asking after seeing last night’s performance of Peter Pan at the Opera House in Blackpool. To be fair, the show is advertised as a “Festive Musical Adventure” rather than a pantomime, a point reiterated by Smee, played by local radio presenter, Scott Gallagher in the first half. He told us that if we wanted a traditional pantomime we needed to go down the road to the Grand Theatre! Although labelled as a Christmas musical we did feel that it kept drifting into “Panto Mode” starting with Peter Pan played by Jake Quickenden asking the children “Have you seen Tinker Bell?” and Smee even reading out the traditional list of “Hellos” and birthdays at the end. This didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the show but if you do like a traditional pantomime this may not be the show for you.
The large theatre was packed with families, with lots of children eager to see this season’s production. There was a lovely atmosphere and our 7-year-old niece was very excited about her trip to the theatre to see Peter Pan. The musical has been specially written and adapted for the world-famous Blackpool Opera House and uses lots of popular songs in the show. I especially liked Our House and my nieces was definitely We Are Family as she didn’t stop singing it all the way home! She sat transfixed throughout the whole performance and when she wasn’t singing had a huge smile on her face all night.
The show had a large cast, and as you would expect from a Christmas show had a few famous faces, Jennifer Ellison was excellent as a non-too-villainous Captain Hook and whilst not on stage for much of the night Maureen Nolan lent her voice to a few of the musical numbers. Standout performances for us were by Alexia Mcintosh who gave a powerful performance as Tiger Lily whilst also showing off her powerful voice and local Radio Wave presenter Scott Gallagher who played a perfect comedy pirate Smee. The rest of the cast were fantastic playing the lost boys, the pirate crew and mermaids.
The Opera House is famous for its large stage and this was used to the full by a wonderful set. Our niece exclaimed with excitement “It’s a ship!” as soon as we went to take our seats; a ship’s mast stood in the centre of the stage and was surrounded by a cloth backdrop onto which shadows were cast at various points in the show. Of course, Peter Pan and Wendy fly to Neverland and this was managed very well with well-practiced wire-flying.
Music to accompany the night was provided by a live band headed up by musical director Alex Bellamy. Most of the musical numbers were adapted from well-known hits including “Uptown Funks”, “Roar” and the ever popular “We are Family.
Despite not really settling on whether it was a pantomime or not we decided that it really didn’t matter as it was a fantastic show full of fantasy, music and comedy and we all enjoyed seeing it.
The show is at Blackpool Opera House until Sunday 7th January, so it would make a lovely pre/post-Christmas treat for the family.
Tickets cost from £10 to £29 (booking fees may apply).
Peter Pan is at the Blackpool Opera House from 16 December 2017 to 7 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL