You know when you’re going to watch a production crafted by Disney that there will be an element of Show, together with a sprinkling of magic, and Debut Youth Theatre’s current production of the classic Peter Pan story is no different.
The little boy who didn’t want to grow up, Peter Pan, is a well-loved favourite, particularly at this time of year, with a story that includes adventure, swashbuckling pirates, magical fairies, kidnapping, a hungry crocodile and a happy ending. In this ‘junior’ version, the story is retold in a beautifully reduced manner, while maintaining all the necessary charm. As you would expect, the show retains many of the well-known songs from the original Disney animation including ‘Following the leader’, ‘Yo ho, a pirate’s life for me’, and ‘You can fly’.
The beauty of ‘junior’ versions is that they allow for both large and small cast sizes, which meant that all 35 members of the DYT cast were kept very active throughout the production. It also meant that a few of them had several costume changes! Sadly, the theatre is not the most amenable to large sets, but DYT were able to utilise the space well, having three wooden boxes that doubled up as beds and a raised platform, The few scene changes were needed were done well, given the theatre’s constraints, and the minor scenery challenges that inevitably occurred just added to the fun and enjoyment for the audience.
Thomas Woodcock plays Peter Pan with a good dose of mischievousness. Wendy is played by Karensa Pickering, and her characterisation of the girl caught between being a child and being forced to grow up is delightful. Wendy’s two brothers, John and Michael, are played by Ben Pavitt and Darwin Brander, both of whom bring their own level of cheeky charm to the roles. Lucy Miller, with her chorus of colourful fairies, her jingling bells, and her magical fairy dust, really puts the sparkle into her role as Tinkerbell.
Having seen several DYT productions, there were a few familiar faces amongst the cast. However, there were also a lot of new faces, which is excellent to see – some of these children will become the talent that we see on the stage around Hampshire for years to come.
These kids love performing, and it’s a great fun show to watch, especially done by children, so it is well worth a look – and watch out for the crocodile…. The show is on until 9 December at 7.30, with a matinée on Saturday at 2.30.