"Second to the right, and straight on 'til morning"
On the 28th May, 2012, I joined mummy and daddy on a trip to The Queens Theatre in Hornchurch, Essex, to see their latest Family Production - Peter Pan. Recently, Peter Pan has been on our television on a regular basis. I have always been a big Tinkerbell fan, and when mummy explained to me that Tinkerbell's best friend was called Peter Pan, I figured it was a story that I would like to explore a little more! From my initial viewing of the classic Disney adaptation, I was engrossed! I was, therefore, very excited about the show!
I selected the perfect outfit for the occasion and insisted that Tinkerbell must come along for the evening too. She didn't even need a ticket!
We were greeted at the door with our tickets and a programme for the show, and I appeared to get lots of comments about my outfit! I spent a little time wandering and dancing around the lively foyer, weaving in and out of groups of excited children waiting patiently to be shown to their seats. Once again, the service we received from all of the theatre staff was wonderful. You may remember that we visited The Queens Theatre back in December 2011 to experience the magic of their Christmas Pantomime, Cinderella, and loved everything about that evening out too! Cut to the Chase, the theatre's resident company of actors and musicians, excelled in every way for that festive production, so when we learned that a handful of the same faces would take on leading roles in this show too, we were looking forward to it even more! You can read our review of our night at the Panto here. Once again, we were issued two booster seats to ensure that I could see the entire stage clearly.
Needless to say, the whole stage area was easy to see. The beautifully designed set, structured on two levels, contributed towards my building excitement. As the auditorium gradually filled up, an 'old lady' discreetly appeared on the stage, pacing around, up and down the stairs on set, whilst clutching a bunch of colourful balloons. A young, smartly dressed man also walked onto the side of the stage, and casually winds an old barrel organ. Then, the story began. A story which, as it develops, utilises the same set throughout. Starting with the 3 children, Wendy, John and Michael Darling enjoying a picnic in Kensington Gardens, and a story being enthusiastically read to them by Mr J M Barrie, but would also create the scene for the Nursery and later, the enchanting Neverland!
|J M Barrie (Jonathan Markwood) reads to Wendy (Kate Robson-Stuart), John (Matthew James) and Michael (Greg Last) as Mrs Moon (Simon Jessop) looks on.|
Photography by Nobby Clark
The much loved, well known features of the story of Peter Pan have not been forgotten, no matter how difficult they might be to depict on the stage. From Nana the loyal family 'nursemaid hound' to the infamous Tick-Tock the Crocodile, nothing has been forgotten! With Tinkerbell taking the form of a tiny bright light on the end of a lamplighter, carried by Natasha Moore (who also plays the part of Tiger Lily, Liza and the Lamplighter) would alert the audience to her presence with the song from a tin whistle, everything was cleverly thought out to ensure that the crowd remained captivated throughout.
Once again, the cast were absolutely brilliant, and what they lacked in numbers was definitely not missing in stage presence and pure vibrancy! The majority of the actors and actresses, barring some who would be needed on stage for most scenes, adopted the roles of more than one character, which was really effective! Together, they brought mystery, endearment, comedy and empathy to this well known story. With clever and inventive use of props, they definitely made me want to explore the magic and wonder that is Neverland!
|Peter Pan (Dylan Kennedy) shares his dreams of never growing up with the innocent Wendy (Kate Robson-Stuart)|
Photography by Nobby Clark
The Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael are played by Kate Robson-Stuart, Matthew James Hinchliffe and Greg Last, portray the innocence of childhood sweetly brilliantly. Whilst Dylan Kennedy shows the cheeky and artful side of youth. Jonathan Markwood affectionately recites stories to the children as J M Barrie before transforming this friendly persona into that of an irate, short tempered pirate, Captain Hook. A role that is beautifully complimented by his comedic, slapstick sidekick, Smee, perfectly played by Simon Jessop who we also see as Mrs Moon - the balloon seller early in the show. The other pirates played by Callum Hughes, Sam Kordbacheh and Alison Thea-Skot bounce off of one another wonderfully throughout. A quality that is also seen as their parts of the lost boys.
|The comical Lost Boys - Callum Hughes, Sam Kordbacheh and Alison Thea-Skot|
Photography by Nobby Clark
The music was fantastic, both in its composition and performance, especially with the instruments being played on the stage by the characters of the story, rather than being hidden away in the Pit! The action on stage flowed perfectly from beginning to end! The atmosphere buzzing around the auditorium was lively and enthusiastic as excited spectators, of ALL ages, joined in with cheers and boos, helping to make the whole evening the excellent experience that it was!
"If you believe in fairies, then clap your hands! Stand up ... stand up and clap. And stamp your feet and cheer!"
Needless to say ... I clapped and cheered harder and louder than I ever have! Tinkerbell was relying on me!
|Peter Pan's Statue in Kensington Gardens, London|
This well loved story of the boy who never wanted to grow up has been reproduced in a number of different ways over the years, each taking its own captivating and magical direction on the original story. As with all of these, this fantastic stage adaptation uses twists and turns in a way that stays true to the original script whilst flavouring it with some very clever and cunning techniques!
The whole evening at The Queens Theatre was, once again, fun and welcoming. As mentioned earlier, the staff were helpful and approachable, and everything was very well organised, meaning we were never met with crowds or confusion at any point of our visit. Even when mummy wanted to get me changed into my pyjamas after the performance (it was a late night for me!) which meant we needed to go downstairs into the Theatre Bar area during its busiest period, navigating our way to the restrooms was 100% hassle free! There was even a lift to take us down, meaning I didn't need to risk taking the stairs in my extra tired and worn out state! It would seem that absolutely everyone is catered for at The Queens Theatre!
For performance details of this magical family production including times, dates and booking availability, visit The Queens Theatre website!
26th May - 16th June, 2012
By J M Barrie
Adapted by Vicky Ireland
Music & Lyrics by Steven Markwick
We received complimentary tickets for the performance, but all opinions are entirely our own!