Christmas has officially arrived in Chesterfield with the opening of the Pomegranate Theatre’s annual panto – and it’s a belter.
Despite a slow start, with an overly long “time travel” computer graphic and dry opening scenes, the cast and audience soon got into the fighting spirit to enjoy a super swashbuckling show full of songs, joy and laughter – with plenty of jokes for both children and adults.
All of the favourites were there – an over-the-top dame, “it’s behind you”, “oh yes it is”, an audience singalong and the scary ghost and ghouls song scene with ubiquitous line “I wouldn’t want to be grabbed by the ghosties” – for panto traditionalists.
Each of the main cast was given a chance to shine, with Let it Shine’s Anthony Sahota demonstrating his singing and acrobatic abilities as the title character and pop star Kelli Young, as Mrs Darling and Tiger Lily, able to show what a brilliant voice she has on plenty of occasions, including a rendition of Just a Little, a song she topped the charts with in Liberty X. Lucy Edge, as Wendy, brought a touch of elegance, as well as a beautiful singing voice, to proceedings and is surely a name to watch in the future.
The supporting children, including the younger Darlings and the Lost Boys were excellent, as were the six-strong ensemble of pirates and braves – seeing them mingle with the children in the auditorium during the interval was a lovely touch.
The true stars of the show, though, were the nefarious Captain Hook, his right-hand man Smee and Dame Able Mabel, played by Sam Attwater, James Percy and Philip Day respectively.
Former EastEnders star and Dancing on Ice winner Attwater led the way, playing Hook perfectly, hamming it up to the max, with lots of laughs as well as the expected boos – “I do love the booze, I even like to get hissed”, just one of his many one-liners.
Day made a great dame with some top lines and wonderful costumes – running on as a roast turkey and seeing him swing through the air as a mermaid complete with 10-feet-plus tail were things of beauty – and probably could have done with some more stage time.
Percy had the children eating out of his hand as he held the show together showing some excellent improv and adlibbing ability.
There were some sound issues, with microphones not switched on for people at the right time, and the story felt muddled once or twice, but that’s the last thing to worry about in panto. The smiles on people’s faces as they left the show is what it is all about – and there were hundreds of them as people departed into the icy Chesterfield night.
Peter Pan continues until Tuesday, January 2. For tickets, call 01246 345222 or see chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk