The pantomime currently showing at The Assembly Halls, Tunbridge Wells.
All my respect and congratulations go to UK Productions for producing the best pantomime I have ever seen!! (They’ve also done Barnum, 42nd Street, Pirates of Penzance, Carousel, Anything Goes, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Fiddler on the Roof, Jekyll and Hyde and the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast,) This was a fantastic show and I loved every minute of it, and so did the kids. The reason why it was so good, was it stuck very closely to the original story by J.M. Barrie, and had no ridiculous and pointless unfunny custard pie or dame scenes that have no relevence to the story!
The lost boys were played by children, as were Michael and John, and I wish I had their names, but I forgot my purse and couldn’t buy a program. There was also a chorus of about 8 kids, along with the adult chorus, who were all exellent. It was actually quite a small cast, but a brilliant one.
The celebrities had lengthy parts, not the usual comes on and does one scene and never appears again till the finale! Captain Hook was brilliantly played by James Gaddas (Neil Grayling in Hollyoaks) and sounded exactly like Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Carribbean. Vanessa Elm, our local KMFM presenter played Starkey. I’ve no idea whether she’s had theatre training before, but she certainly didn’t seem out of place amongst the cast. Andrew Agnew (PC Plum in Balamory) was Smee and was on the stage nearly all the time and was excellent as well. Katherine Dow-Blyton (plays Sally Hunter in Hollyoaks) was Mrs Darling and also a mermaid, who sang a song really well and played to the audience too.
The stars of the show, who aren’t celebrities and don’t get the credit they deserve, were the actresses who played Peter Pan, Wendy and Tinkerbell. Again, I don’t know most their names as I couldn’t get a program, so if anyone knows, please e-mail me and I’ll add them. However, I do know Vanessa Barmby, who was Peter Pan, as she went to the same school as me, and we did dancing lessons together until she went off to Laine Theatre College. Actually, she even taught me Jazz lessons, and my youngest daughter ballet for a while! It was great to see her performing again, without being at all bias, she was fantastic! She has a powerful voice that makes you tingle when she sings, and she acted Peter Pan’s character perfectly.
Tinkerbell on rollerskates was brilliant and Wendy’s singing was as well. There was lots of flying, including near the beginning with Wendy, John, Michael and Peter Pan all up in the air singing! And Peter Pan flew over the audience a couple of times. As you can tell by now, it was a great production and I would highly recommend it if you have time to see it.
I do have a couple of complaints though: first of all, the gay pirate was not necessary. It was like someone said, ‘Oh, we don’t have enough camp-ness; let’s make one of the pirates gay and call him primrose’. No-one laughed at the gay jokes involving him, because it was obviously not needed in this traditional pantomime. Luckily he didn’t have a big part!
Also, the price. I saw this on the 29th I’d say half of the audience were Guides and Scouts etc because that’s the only way to afford a ticket! Luckily I was able to tag along with a group of Guides or I would not have been able to spend over £50 for a family ticket – that it seriously how much it costs in the Christmas holidays! Good job for them that it’s in Tunbridge Wells! But not so good for lowly people from Tonbridge like me!! However, I’ve just looked at The Assmbly Halls website, and what I didn’t know, was that next week has showings at 7pm for almost half the price; so get yourself along then!