Having watched – and adored – Peter Pan Goes Wrong on TV over Christmas, it was perhaps ironic that my first review of 2017 should be Peter Pan. However, knowing that director/choreographer extraordinaire Sarah Haberfield would be at the helm of this NFP production, I had no fears that I would be seeing something similar on the New Milton stage, with disaster following disaster and stage hands roped in to cover for injured principals.
In fact, apart from a quiet moment – why are they always quiet moments? – when an offstage conversation came over loud and clear in the auditorium, there didn’t seem to be even the tiniest hiccup, getting this thoroughly enjoyable show off to a flying start. It really was a flying start too, with Peter, Wendy and even Captain Hook actually flying. Okay, we could see the wires and the holding bar at the top, but theatre is all about using one’s imagination so with the aid of a little fairy dust….
There is an incredibly strong line-up of principal performers, complemented by plenty of smiling, mainly young people in the chorus and as the Lost Boys – the latter actually made up entirely of girls as the young boys of New Milton seem to be having their awfully big adventures elsewhere. No matter: it was their loss because everyone on stage seemed to be having a whale of a time.
Playing the title role with lashings of stage presence is Shannon Fisher, making the most of the character’s total self-confidence but also showing us Pan’s more vulnerable side. 15-year-old Emma Hardy, playing Wendy, may not have Shannon’s experience but she certainly matches her in ability and is definitely a name to watch out for in the future.
Jack Haberfield once again proves to be a crowd-pleaser as a very appealing Smee, while 15-year-old Alfie Bloor (Starkey) makes an excellent NFP debut and seems an ideal choice to step into Jack’s shoes next year once the latter is away at university. Chris March is a wonderfully evil Captain Hook, getting the balance between evil and amusingly scary just right, and Emily-Jane Charge is a delightfully stroppy Tinkerbell.
The character of Tiger Lily is often a bit of a ‘non part’, but in this production ‘she’ becomes ‘he’ playing ‘she’. I just loved Martin Mansfield in this role, and he seems entirely comfortable, too. I hope he will forgive me if I say it is the best thing I have ever seen him do. There are lovely characterisations from those in smaller roles too, sadly too numerous to mention here.
Last but by no means least, thanks to musical director Lee Redwood, the singing from all, whether soloists or chorus, is of a very high standard indeed, and some cracking backcloths plus excellent costumes add even more to a production that has all the ingredients necessary for a rip-roaring success. You may well get wet or be pelted with gold coins. You will certainly have to sing along and jump up and down. You will enjoy yourself, of that I am sure, so be there or miss a treat. Future performances: 6 January at 7.30, 7 January at 2.30 (sold out) and 7.30, and 8 January at 2.30.