Peter Pan the Musical

Date 26th November 2012
Society Ponteland Repertory Society
Venue The Memorial Hall, Ponteland
Type of Production Musical
Director Jonathan Cash
Musical Director Deborah Barry
Choreographer Helen Cash

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Author: Michael L. Avery

My only real knowledge of “Peter Pan” comes from the classic 1953 Disney film. At home, we had the music and I remember singing my 8-year-old lungs out to Sammy Cahn and Sammy Fain’s songs. I knew I wasn’t going to hear that music this evening, but it took some time to attune my ears to the unfamiliar music of Piers Chater Robinson, who put this version of J M Barrie’s play together. This is not a pantomime but a play with specially written music. So putting on this show was, to me, a brave move by Ponteland Repertory Company but it seems to have paid off. I gather ticket sales have been better than for more standard musicals in recent years.

I assume everybody knows about the Darling children’s adventures in Neverland with Peter Pan, Captain Hook and his Pirates, the Red Indians, the crocodile with a ticking clock in its belly and a taste for Hook and the Lost Boys of whom Peter is the leader. Sadly for Peter, the Darlings eventually decide to return home with the Lost Boys in tow, leaving him alone flying between Neverland and reality, determined never to grow up. Not quite as sad as Hook’s fate in the belly of the crocodile! There was the perennial casting problem of the amateur musical – filling male roles with male performers. The pirate cast was fine, being a lusty group of adult males but most of the Indians and the Lost Boys were female. I know it is invariably necessary to have one or two male parts taken by girls, but in this case the girls were rather obvious, especially as at least one of them was wearing a dress. I don’t think the rest of the audience cared as much about this as I did!

The Memorial Hall stage is small and some of the children were very young, which conspired to make it difficult for them to kick out and together. Emma Cash played Peter with considerable charm and sang, to me, the most effective song in the score, just before the curtain, “Don’t Say Goodbye”, almost making my eyes sting. But, of course, I knew Peter was doomed to fly off alone, so I was sad already! Brian Barry played Captain Hook/Mr Darling with panache and a strong voice throughout, although slightly upstaged by a brilliant tricorn hat on a spring and a red dress coat I coveted. Hannah Elliott, as Wendy, continues to show great promise in voice and stage presence. The show did lift in the second half and the hard working cast received a well-deserved ovation from their audience after their finale reprise of “You Gotta Believe”.