Peter Pan A Musical Adventure

"This show will have you hooked from beginning to end with a very talented cast"

It’s always a pleasure to be invited to review amateur productions, as everyone involved really does give their all.  There is no exception with the Bilston Operatic Company’s production of Peter Pan A Musical Adventure which is playing at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the 12th November 2022.

Based on the J. M. Barrie classic play, Peter Pan is a story known far and wide by many.  This production features music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe respectively who are synonymous with many a family friendly musical.  Their songs really are beautiful throughout this production and the cast delivered them all very well.

We open on a group number ‘There’s Something in the Air Tonight’, a rather sombre song, depicting a dark, drizzly evening in London.  As soon as the show starts, I am very impressed with the quality of the staging and set.  There is nothing amateur here and it really elevates the experience with impressive light displays and props by Philip Evans.

I think we all know the story of Peter Pan, so I won’t got into great detail here.  We meet The Storyteller (Amy Frost) who narrates us through the story.  An integral role in the show and delivered eloquently with clear diction.  We are then introduced to the Darling family and treated to ‘Just Beyond the Stars’ by Mrs Darling (Lydia Hackett).  This number really was a highlight of the evening with Hackett providing a pitch perfect vocal. It was a shame not to hear more of her voice throughout the show.

Talking about highlights, we meet Nanna, of course the large St Bernard dog we all know and love from the classic story.  There was no puppetry or cardboard cut out here, we were treated to a real-life dog whose stage presence was second to none, despite the little hat covering her eyes each time she appeared.  She was a clear winner with the audience with many audible gasps whenever she graced the stage.

The three Darling children, John (Joseph Dowen), Michael (Jett Austin-Richards) and Wendy (Maddie Evans) performed superbly.  Wendy features heavily in the story, becoming the mother figure to The Lost Boys.  Evans acting ability was impressive with a vocal to match.  Dowen and Austin-Richards provided energy to the family and also impressed with their acting ability.

Peter Pan (Fergus Edwards) flies onto the stage with gusto.  The aerial work throughout the show was fantastic, adding another element to the overall look.  Edwards played the boy who doesn’t want to grow up well with some great vocals during ‘The Cleverness of Me’ and ‘One Big Adventure’. 

Now we must talk about Captain Hook (Dan Smith) and Smee (Zachary Hollinshead).  I think the best word to describe the way they each played their roles is inspired! I mean who knew that we needed a rather camp Black Country Smee?  Well, we absolutely do and Hollinshead delivered this so perfectly that each time he spoke it raised a laugh.  He has great stage presence and wowed with his number ‘Rose-Tinted Eyepatch’ with some hilarious ad-libs thrown in for good measure.  Smith as Captain Hook really commanded the stage and captured the essence of the ruthless pirate.  Again, some comedic moments delivered well, and you know the audience has totally believed your portrayal when you are booed at the curtain call.  A big well done to Smith and Hollinshead!

The ensemble pieces featuring The Lost Boys, the Pirates and the Indians led by Tiger Lily (Issy Checketts) were all choreographed well by Laura Canadine. Every inch of the stage was used, and the content was well thought out and performed excellently. 

There are no less than 21 musical numbers in this show and the beautiful score was performed under the musical direction of Gareth Howard by the Midland Concert Orchestra.  A particular highlight was ‘The Fight’ where the orchestra were put front and centre and provided a wonderful sound for this particular scene.

Everyone at the Bilston Operatic Company should be extremely proud of themselves for this triumphant production.  There was the odd issue of noisy moving of scenery, however this did not distract from the talent shown on stage.  If there was one suggestion to make, then it would have been to see the crocodile in some form.  We all know how instrumental the creature was in Captain Hook’s demise, so I feel it should have been featured. 

This show will have you hooked from beginning to end with a very talented cast.  Make sure you head down to the second star on the right and head on until morning……..or just pop into the Wolverhampton Grand before Peter Pan takes his final flight on the 12th November.  Tickets are available here: https://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/peter-pan/

Photo credit: Jonathan Hipkiss

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