Grove Theatre, Dunstable
6pm, 20 December, 2019
We had such a laugh at the Grove Theatre’s Peter Pan.
The story of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up is sometimes hard to make into a traditional panto. There’s no natural dame role, no real love interest and no male comic “do you want to be in my gang kids” type part, but this production successfully made it into a pantomime with familiar concepts that regular goers will know and love.
Captain Hook’s righthand man, the usually inept Smee, is now the equally inept Mrs Smee, seamlessly incorporating both the dame and the hapless comedy sidekick role. And those that play them make the pairing a joy to watch.
Richard David-Caine, of CBeebies and Horrible Histories fame, is just brilliant as Captain Hook. Deliciously camp and progressively getting a little more drunk as the show goes on, he is completely hilarious. He and Mrs Smee, played by director, Will Kenning, are the stars of the show, effortlessly bouncing off each other bringing laugh after laugh as Kenning also seemed to change costume every other minute.
As huge Strictly fans it was great to see pro-dancer AJ Pritchard in his first ever panto and they clearly played to his strengths – dancing. The title role in this story doesn’t usually dance that much and it was unusual for him not to duet with Wendy but quite frankly it was just brilliant to see his incredible moves mere metres away from us. Plus he “fights” Captain Hook in a dance-off – what’s not to like?!
The rest of the cast were strong and supportive providing some great ensemble work.
Samantha Dorrance as Wendy Darling was delightful with a pitch perfect singing voice and Jo Osmond is a fabulous Tinkerbell, bursting with fun and energy.
In another good move, the chorus were not just dancers but played other roles as well and there wasn’t a weak link amongst them.
Katy Dean was one of the busiest cast members playing Mrs Darling, Mermaid and Squatting Cow with both a strong singing voice and great comic timing while other chorus Kirsty Anne Shaw, Lucy Parry and Abbie Quinnen also played numerous parts.
With lots of audience interaction, from singing silly songs to believing in fairies, laugh out loud funny jokes, and impressive flying, this year’s Dunstable panto is another triumph.