Writer: J.M. Barrie
Adaptor: Eric Potts
Director: Jane Joseph
Reviewer: John Roberts
As pantomimes go Peter Pan, doesn’t naturally lend itself to the genre, however this years production at the Liverpool Empire is a beast of a production, it has all the glitz, gags, and energy to make any shortcomings you may have fall to the kerb.
Sticking pretty close to J.M Barrie’s original script, adaptor writer/performer Eric Potts brings plenty of pantomime elements into the show without them feeling shoehorned or artificial, while the show may lack the pantomime dame it doesn’t matter as the strong cast hold their own. There are some story features that have been cut (presumably to keep the show at a tight 1 hour each half) including the exposition of Mr &Mrs Darling and the show has been relocated from Kensington to Liverpool – However director Jane Joseph keeps things punchy and pacey (apart from the overly long Captain Hook introduction scene), it’s also refreshing to not be blasted with modern pop songs, instead Joseph has opted to finding songs that fit the show that all the family can enjoy – from Bon Jovi, Petula Clark to yes you guessed it One Direction (They had to really didn’t they?)
In the titular rôle Ray Quinn is in fine form, he looks every inch the young good looking boy and brings across a nice balance between warmth and arrogance, he also has a strong voice – a shame he rarely gets the chance in the show to prove it, but when he does the local crowd go wild. In the rôle of Pan’s arch enemy Captain Hook Louis Emerick is the epitome of Evil and his rendition of Hook is slightly less in your face than many but all the more powerful because of it.
Making a welcome return to the Empire is local actor Shaun Mason as Smee, once again proving that he is the perfect clown bringing the audience at times to tears of laughter with his silly antics. Strong support is given from Emma Stephens as Wendy – who is joined by talented local children Matteo Elezi and Bradley Cottrell (as Michael &John), Local radio presenter Leanne Campbell is a delightful Tiger Lily half soux, half scouse which brings a nice twist to the rôle.
Francesca Mills is strong willed, mouthy and mischievous as Tinkerbell, while powerful Priscilla Queen of the Desert-esque singing cameo’s are delivered through Charlotte Gallagher and Chloe Pimlott. Even Pete Price seems to have found a part actually suited to him (far better then the salacious rôles of the past) as the overtly camp Roger the Cabin Boy, however audible intakes of breath can be heard at times from the audience when his rather risqué gags cross the fine line between innuendo and smut.
With lavish sets and a strong pit band, the show may lack the magical element of Cinderella, the dream come true of Snow White, but for dashing adventure and laughs-a-plenty Peter Pan proves to be the worthy victor of the star-studded pantomime on the Mersey.