Disclosure: We were invited to see this show for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.
This afternoon we were invited to see this year’s panto at The Anvil in Basingstoke. We’ve been to the pantomime there for the last few years and it’s always a great show with a great atmosphere and so many laughs. We couldn’t wait to see if this year lived up to the high bar that The Anvil have set for themselves – the standard is always so high!
This year’s panto is The Further Adventures of Peter Pan: The Return of Captain Hook. Although we have seen a Peter Pan pantomime a few times, we have never seen a sequel. How refreshing to see something different! However, doing something different for a pantomime, rather than the typical fairy tales, is risky – would we enjoy this show as much as the classics?!
The Further Adventures of Peter Pan: The Return of Captain Hook at The Anvil
The show starts in the Darling house, with Mrs Darling and her daughter, Emily, singing and dancing with a lot of other cast members. It sets the scene for the show, with a mobile phone on prominent display, letting you know that unlike the original Peter Pan, this show is set in modern times.
From there we meet the rest of the cast – Tinkerbell, Peter Pan, Smee and the gang of pirates. The show takes us smoothly from the Darling house in London to Neverland and back again. We’re told that Wendy Darling is actually Emily Darling’s great great grandmother and, unlike Peter Pan, she’s aged normally back in London – she’s now 104 – while Peter is still just a boy.
In this story, Emily Darling takes Wendy’s place, going on a real adventure with Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and her fairies in training, the Baby-Bells. The show was fast paced, with different sets and so many musical numbers. One thing we loved was that the songs in The Return of Captain Hook were a good mix of songs we knew and ones that had been edited to fit the story – with new words written to make us laugh and smile. They were great fun!
The choreography was fantastic – with not just dancing but Tinkerbell mainly on skates and plenty of acrobatics amongst the pirates too. The Return of Captain Hook featured a lot of slapstick humour that always goes down well with the whole family, alongside plenty of jokes that were family friendly. Pantomimes are known for being a little risque but this one was very much suitable for everyone.
The Return of Captain Hook featured the classic pantomime aspects – oh yes he is, oh no he isn’t and he’s behind you to name a couple. There was no pantomime dame in this show but we can’t say that we missed that character – the whole story worked well without a dame and I’m glad they didn’t write a dame in purely to tick a panto dame box.
One of our favourite characters was Smee, played by Chris Pizzey who also directed the show. Chris is fabulous at what he does and having seen him quite a few times in various shows, he never disappoints. He’s naturally funny, really engages the audience and puts so much into his act, he’s a joy to watch and the children absolutely love him.
I thought that Peter Pan was wonderful. Played by David Ribi, he was enthusiastic, energetic and had such a great voice. A couple of songs that he took the lead for absolutely blew us away and he was wholly believable as Peter Pan.
Emily, played by Ruth Betteridge, also had a great voice and we loved how her character brought the Peter Pan story into the modern day, with constant mobile phone photos and selfies! She seemed to have such a natural rapport with the other characters and we loved seeing her dance and sing her way through the show.
The children both commented on how great Tinkerbell was. Played by Holly Atterton, she whizzed around the stage – and even flew a few times too. She spent most of the show captured by pirates yet still managed to make a huge impression on the children – she was the perfect Tinkerbell!
The headline spot went to Melanie Walters as Mrs Darling – and a mermaid! It was lovely seeing a familiar face from our TV screens on the stage, and we loved how she went seamlessly from British Mrs Darling to a Welsh mermaid, giving us all a little reminder of Stacey’s mum Gwen!
The whole show was fantastic to watch, with plenty of audience participation and laughs throughout. We found ourselves singing, laughing, clapping and shouting out almost constantly and loved every minute. Plus, the show was full of flying and special effects which went down so well too!
Yet again The Anvil have put on a wonderful pantomime and I’m so pleased we were able to see it. Not only was it a great performance but it was fresh and new, a risk that paid off. Well done Anvil Arts, it was a great show and we’ll be talking about it for a long time to come.
The Further Adventures of Peter Pan: The Return of Captain Hook is on at The Anvil until the end of the month. You can find out more and book tickets here.