8 December 2015 to 3 January 2016
Reviewed by Phil Nettleton
It’s been a decade of pantomimes ‘behind him’ at the Regent Theatre for Stoke local, Jonathan Wilkes and he looks like he is still loving them. He and fellow Director and lead Christian Patterson playing Captain Hook, or as it is in Stoke, it’s pronounced ‘ook had great fun entertaining both youngsters and the older members of the audience alike.
It’s been a while since I went to a panto and my two five year olds were raring to go, walking in through the pirate themed entrance, loading up with sweets, drinks and flashing wands. The Regent Theatre was a nice setting; the staging was bright and well done with plenty of obstacles for Peter Pan and Wendy to navigate whilst they fly.
Wilkes playing Smee, had a great rapport with Captain Hook, who seemed to compete to get the biggest laugh from one another as well as the audience through their slapstick humour. As you would expect this will be a firm favourite for families however plenty of references to the local areas and to Wilkes’ beloved Port Vale and rivalry with Stoke meant that there was fun for all ages.
Hook dressing up as Wendy with Smee standing behind him providing his arms and flying (about 6 inches from the ground) kept the children giggling throughout the whole 2 and a half hours whilst the chaos of the pirates and the lively dancing from the lost boys and the Indians kept them enthralled.
As there is more of a story to follow with Peter Pan than in some other panto favourites the switches between slapstick comedy and storytelling worked well, the whole cast had great singing voices and danced brilliantly with the little ones in the audience joining in whenever they could. Tinkerbell (Amanda Coutts) skated her way around the stage effortlessly and Peter Pans (Shannon Lane) and Wendy Darlings (Yazmin Wood) singing voices were fantastic especially whilst flying 15 feet in the air. There was of course the obligatory “It’s behind you” moment and a Benny Hill style chase with the Crocodile and Hook (where there were lots of strobing lights).
The panto is almost wholly made up of a number of protégés from The Wilkes Academy and the young actors never missed a line even ad-libbing when Peter Pan couldn’t quite make his landing.
As a first timer to a Wilkes’ panto there were a few jokes, songs and lines that have been rolled out every year, to the joy of the regular members of the audience who come back each year as part of their Christmas tradition, it looks like it may also become part of ours too.
Tickets cost from £11.40 to £32.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Peter Pan is at the Regent Theatre in Stoke until 3 January 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7649
Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP | 0844 871 7649