Peter Pan

Date 30th January 2015
Society Westovian Theatre Society
Venue Pier Pavillion, South Shields
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Gareth Hunter
Musical Director Jonny Winter
Choreographer Lisa Petrie


Author: Gordon Richardson

The annual Westovian’s panto seems to be a tradition for South Shields families, many of whom seemed to be there the night I attended. Young or old it didn’t matter, the vast majority joined in with the cast to audience banter in this fast moving, slick and entertaining production.

Having all the elements of a traditional pantomime, with a few twists on the traditional story, the plot moved along at pace. ‘Ethel Mermaid’ (Erin Mullen) introduced the story from her rock, and went on to relate many ‘fishy’ jokes throughout the well written script. The Darling children of John, Michael and Wendy (Grace Cooke, James Bassett and Danielle King respectively) were transported to Neverland by ‘Peter Pan’ (Mel Hogetts). Mel kept up her tomboy persona throughout the production, playing the role in a Lord Flasheart/Rik Mayall-esque manner which the audience loved.
Peter Pan’s nemesis was the evil ‘Capt. Hook’ played by David Cooke in his first panto role. It may have been his first, but I’m sure he will be called upon in future as he was the archetypal ‘villain’ engaging the audience throughout with much ‘booing’ and cat-calling. Fight scenes between Hook and Pan were well rehearsed and showed director Gareth Hunter’s attention to detail.  Hook’s two henchmen ’Whiteleas Will’ and ‘Simonside Sam’ (Andrew Dawson and Daniel Lee) were suitably ‘inept’ pirates
Adding the magical element was ‘Tinkerbelle’ (Annabel Mallin) who never said a word but communicated by the tinkling sound of her bells. Annabel kept in character throughout, not speaking even in choral numbers. Talking about chorus numbers, the collection of Indian’s and pirates were made up of dancers and two teams of children (Team Sadie the night I was there). The dancing was up to a high standard, and congratulations are due to Lisa for  her choreography.

Pan’s friend ‘Tiger Lily’ (Rachael Walsh) was very good in her role and the on-stage rivalry/jealousy between her and ‘Wendy’ was a joy to behold, with some excellent facial expressions.

All pantos need a ‘Dame’ and a ‘loveable underling’, and these two roles were filled by Paul Dunn and Vanessa Karon as ‘Dame Sadie’ and ‘Smee’ respectively. These two had the audience in stitches of laughter with their on-stage chemistry, and natural banter with a receptive audience and general all-round charisma.

Songs used in the panto were all up tempo, lively, and appropriate to the script (and well done to Jonny Winter for his musical combo). Choreography was very good, Direction was well rehearsed under Gareth.
Finally a special little mention for two characters not even in the programme cast listing, Tiger Lily’s father that endeared the audience with his ‘sign language’ talk and finally a young lad (James Jobling) playing a cameo role as ‘Derek’ the somewhat ‘try-hard’ member of the lost boys that somehow just didn’t fit in.

Well done to all at Westovians – Next year’s production is already mentally pencilled into my diary.