Reviewed by Joanne Hughes
The never-ageing story of Peter Pan has returned to Southampton, with it’s swashbuckling pirates, ticking crocodiles, lost children and a feisty fairy.
The classic story of three Darling children, Wendy, Michael and John, who meet the boy-who-never-grows-up, Peter Pan, and fly to Neverland, thanks to the magic of happy thoughts and a little fairy dust, where they encounter the nefarious Captain Hook, is well-known and loved by many generations. However, the MAST (Mayflower Studios) Christmas Youth production are taking this classic story in a whole new direction – a musical adventure, so I was intrigued to see how this new creative style would translate this classic tale.
MAST is Southampton’s brand-new arts venue and cultural hub aimed at creating opportunities and inspiring local people to get involved in the arts. Together with the Mayflower theatre, they are delivering the Engage programme which provides workshops, events and activities for all ages and families. This retelling of Peter Pan is their first Christmas Youth Project, with the whole cast consisting of local young people under the age of 19.
The excitement starts from the moment you walk up the stairs towards the auditorium, as there you encounter a larger-than-life ticking crocodile – one of the fabulous art installations exhibiting how this production has involved all the creative arts. And this excitement never fades throughout the whole show. We are enchanted by the exceptional cast, from a very charming and delightful Peter Pan, doting and graceful Wendy, scary, yet heart-warming female Hook, daring and adventurous Tiger Lily, and a sparkly fun-loving Tinkerbell – all were enthusiastic and spectacular. But the show was stolen by a very talented young Olivia Rose Hollands as Tootles, who I am certain we will see gracing the stage for many years to come with her wonderful charm, superb talent and exceptional singing voice. Equally talented, was the young Smee, Ben Reid, who had us giggling like children with his funny quips and silliness.
Now let’s not forget, this is a musical adventure, and what an ‘awfully big adventure’ in music it is – regaling us with a mixture of songs spanning many years, including Dock of the Bay, Count on Me, Happy, I’m a Believer and Livin’ La Vida Loca. Tinkerbell’s strong vocals shone through with the song ‘Think’ by Aretha Franklin, and the crowd were all singing and swaying along to the whole cast’s brilliant rendition of Sweet Caroline. These songs were brilliantly accompanied by terrific dancing – beautifully choreographed with spot-on timing and a lot of energy.
The creative set was a masterpiece, transforming from the Darling nursery to the Lost One’s Den, Neverland’s Mermaid Lagoon and the Jolly Roger with barely-noticeable ease.
This spectacular show is currently playing at the Mayflower Studios in Southampton, which is well located near to the Guildhall, where there is free parking after 6pm. With a wealth of eateries in the surrounding area, this is a perfect spot. The venue is new and has a bar providing drinks and snacks, comfy seats with good leg-room and great views from all.
Tickets are available from mayflowerstudios.org.uk or 023 80711833 and are reasonably priced from £9.50, making it a great and affordable family evening out.