Disney’s Peter Pan Jr

Date 7th October 2017
Society City of Plymouth Theatre Company
Venue Devonport Playhouse, Plymouth
Director Katy O’Brien
Choreographer Katy O’Brien
Type of Production Musical

Report

Author: Gareth Davies

This was a magical show, full of famous music and lyrics that conjured everyone’s sense of nostalgic childhood. Peter Pan is of course based on J.M.Barrie’s enchanting play and the Disney film of 1953 and Disney’s Peter Pan JR is a modern version of this timeless tale about a boy who would not grow up.

As this production was only running for three performances one did not expect lavish sets but the clever way various scenes were designed and depicted by the designer and director were indeed very effective, as I would expect from Andy Martin.

Peter Pan himself was confidently and delightfully played by Sam Goulden. He did a great job of capturing both the mischief and playfulness of the character and ‘crowed’ brilliantly! Bethan Harris brought out the sweetness and mother-like qualities of Wendy Darling beautifully and her singing of ‘Your Mother and Mine’ was lovely. Her brothers Michael (Hugh Plant) and John (Josh Higman) were truly ‘little darlings’ whilst Ethan Ash was suitably surly and stern as Mr. Darling. I was not convinced his suit was in period, however, which was a little distracting but only a minor quibble. Josephine Ring was perfect as the doting mother, Mrs. Darling, whilst also giving us a lovely contrast as Chief Tiger Bamboo.

Harriet Tyson charmingly played Tinkerbell - there was good balance between the naughtiness and tenderness of the role, which she delivered superbly, and with more than a sparkle of magic dust; her ‘fairy friends’ were also all very convincing in their respective roles.

Henry Jenkins as Captain Hook has potential but he does need to control and command his dialogue more effectively and I would have preferred him to be more commanding generally. Hook needs to dominate the stage, the audience and embrace that sneering villainy.

Orlando Wooding was the comical Smee, always a gift of a role for an actor with good comic timing and physicality.

Good supporting performances came from Mia Harper as Tiger Lily, with The Lost Boys, Pirates and Indians all adding so much energy and fun, playing their roles with such great enthusiasm.

This young cast of over thirty members should be very proud of themselves as should the production team, stage, lighting and sound crews. Well done!

The lighting was used to very good effect, with a variety of colours for the various scenes in, from London to Neverland. I was especially impressed by the projection effects, from the opening and throughout. That gave the production a very professional touch.  

Direction and choreography from Katy O’Brien was slick, well drilled and fast-paced throughout. It is not easy directing children but the cast were clearly thoroughly rehearsed and there were many examples of detailed characterization.

It is always disappointing when there is not a live orchestra, but the recorded accompaniment here was well balanced with the singers and cues were picked up accurately throughout the performance. Obviously, it is a bonus when the cast can rehearse with the actual accompaniment but on the downside, this means there is less capacity for interpretation from the singers.

To summarize, this was a lively, inventive and colorful production of a timeless musical favorite. The audience, including many children and my daughters, loved it! Congratulations to everyone involved, it is always so special to see young people enjoying live theatre.