STRICTLY COME DANCING JUDGE
Peter Pan - Peter Pan at Orchard Theatre, Dartford19th Dec 2014
Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Paul Burling liberally sprinkled fairy dust over the Orchard Theatre’s pantomime to make sure it really flies.
The two star names proved to be more than just faces for the promotional posters as they anchored the theatre’s Peter Pan as Captain Hook and Smee.
Burling, who you may recognise as the impressionist who lit up BGT in 2010, was a particular tour de force with as the delightful, cheery, everyman who effortlessly won the audience over.
He looked so comfortable on stage and that fed into the atmosphere in the auditorium and he brought smiles to not just the children but adults too with his full bag of impressions and gags.
Similarly engaging was Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood as Captain Hook, who had great stage presence and wonderful comic menace, delivering his lines with biting panache.
His singing voice thankfully improved too to a fairly rousing finale after a ropey introduction singing Blondie.
Generally speaking, the scenes featuring either him or Smee were the ones that made you shift forward in your seat.
That is, apart from the action scenes and dances, which were genuinely amazing.
Director Barbara Evans has a strong choreography background and her experience was telling.
The sword fights were breathtaking, Peter Pan’s flight mesmerising and the dancers – though I felt the second’s scene’s dry-humping dancers was perhaps bordering too far – were faultless and dynamic.
While Pirates Burling and Revel Horwood threatened to steal the show, the rest of the cast brought the goods too.
Especially noteworthy were ventriloquist Dawson Chance, as Seaman Starkey, who did a decent line in double entendres; Andy Owens who was spunky and cut some good shapes in the air as Peter Pan; and Stephanie Siadatan, who you could scarcely take your eyes off as Tiger Lily.
Rachel Spry was good as the nearest approximation of a dame, but why was there no bloke in a frock?
The show felt a little unevenly paced but the second half in particular was a real blast, with the action really ramping up as well as the gags and the sing-a-longs (of which, I thought there was perhaps scope for more).
The script was at its best when it veered close to filthy – though it never ventured too far – and was equally fun for youngsters and grown-ups.
Kids really, really enjoyed the numerous chances to get involved – whether it was shouting out or throwing rocks at Captain Hook.
To coin a phrase from the Strictly judge this pantomime stars, this show Pan was fab-u-lous, darling – funny, interactive, well-acted and just plain joyous.
How Peter Pan rated: FOUR out of five stars.
Review by Jim Palmer