This most middle-class and twee of children’s classics gets quite rough and raucous treatment here – but that’s the way the Wolverhampton audience likes it, to judge from its evident enthusiasm on Tuesday.
With the London nursery scenes kept mercifully brief this show cuts straight to the action. It then continues to set a cracking pace, except for the moments when it screeches to a halt so that the Krankies can treat us to another routine.
They were also featured in last year’s panto at the Grand, [ITAL]Dick Whittington [ITAL], so that it was hard to believe that they hadn’t been packed away backstage somewhere with the tinsel (actually, they’ve been in Australia). They bring a touch of genuine music hall, something which is extremely rare nowadays. Obviously the comedy is corny (and a bit smuttier than I remembered from last year) but Janette obviously finds it hilarious and somehow you don’t like to disagree with her.
Her impersonation of Amy Winehouse performing on a pirate ship (don’t ask) is certainly among the more remarkable things I’ve seen this year, and she demonstrates that having a straight man who can’t always get his lines out quite right is far from an inconvenience for a seasoned ad-libber.
Paul Nicholas is a suitably villainous Captain Hook though perhaps a little underpowered at this performance as he appeared to be suffering from a rough throat. Jack Montgomery, who made his stage debut as Chip the Tea Cup in Disney’s [ITAL]Beauty and the Beast [ITAL] at Birmingham Hippodrome when he was only 10, and is still at school in Redditch, is a serious, no-nonsense Peter who has the flying all to himself.
The Indians’ jungle is attractively designed by Ian Westbrook and its young inhabitants deliver some energetic and well-drilled dancing. The best bit, though, was when we were invited to bombard Hook and his crew with foam rocks – a novel take on audience participation which brought an enthusiastic, if not particularly disciplined, response.
Running time: Two hours, 35 minutes. Until January 25.