The Pavilion Theatre in Worthing may be an end-of-the-pier venue but its festive presentation of Peter Pan is more in the style of a West End musical than the usual seaside Christmas offerings. All the usual pantomime set pieces are there – but add in the stunning sets, sumptuous costumes and dazzling lighting effects as well as a couple of Vegas-style song and dance numbers and you get a production that ticks all the boxes.
Darren Day provides the celebrity lead, initially as Mr Darling and later as a very villainous Captain Hook. In no time at all he whips all of the children, and most of the adults, into a frenzy of boos and hisses and then, in the musical numbers, he leaves all that behind and unleashes an incredibly powerful voice quite capable of lifting the rafters.
Following a series of reality television style auditions, Hook’s nemesis, the boy who never grew up, is played with great confidence by local guy, James-Royden Lyley. With a background mainly in dance, at which he excels, he also possesses a great singing voice and tops it off with loads of innocent boyish charm. Making his entrance high above the stage, he also displays consummate grace and skill on the wires.
Linking scene after scene, and providing most of the interaction with the audience, is [Sean “Rollo” Rollason] as Smee. Showing his credentials as a very accomplished children’s entertainer, he gets the best of the many one-liners. Breakfast radio presenters Tom Evans and Jack Hayes add another local angle. Evans is every inch the dashing pirate Starkey and Hayes, as th voluptuous Cookie the Cook, proves that he has the perfect face for radio!
The rest of the adult cast, the lost boys and the other juveniles all work very hard, and help to make this production simply wonderful. Sarah Brown as the roller-skating Tinkerbell and Rachel Gray as Wendy Darling both perform excellently in the leading female roles and the wonderfully-named India Cabezuelos-Lambourne raises the roof as Mertha Mermaid when she belts out “It’s raining men”.
A special mention also goes to Julian Riley. As one of the team of very talented senior dancers he is constantly required to change costumes for the many musical numbers and, not content with that, he also appears, on several occasions, as the children’s enormously cute nursemaid, Nana the dog.
After the rapturous applause during the curtain calls, the 70s disco encore has the audience on its feet and dancing in the aisles, which provides a perfect ending to this stunning, slick, spectacular show.