Peter Pan (Southend, Cliffs Pavilion)
There some good performances, notably Jade Sampson as a sassy Tinkerbell and Tim Frances as Captain Hook. Spencer Charles Noll in the title role has the right air of disconnection (leading to a disconcerting touch of cruelty) with mere mortals; you sense that there’s more of the Great God Pan to him than just those pointy ears. Extremely well-managed flying sequences take both Peter and Tinkerbell right over the audience’s heads across the auditorium.
Acrobatics of a high order come from the Acromaniacs (the talented Gareth Parker, Jason Beeston, Paul David and Peter Laffan) and they’re matched by the limber dancing of Laura Scott, Madeleine Hanna, Allie Negus and Amy Honour. Kerry Fermor’s Wendy is also a good characterisation with just the right touch of bossiness in her attitude first to her younger brothers and then to the Lost Boys.
The audience’s favourite, however, was Bradley Walsh as Smee. Unfortunately, I couldn’t warm to him and felt that he pushed the whole show out of kilter. Pantomimes these days tend to shy away from the speciality acts of the 1970s and 80s, and I felt that Walsh’s extended comedy routines harked back to these rather two much. Bob Tomson directs.