Peter Pan

Hilarious. Entertaining. Family fun at its very best"

Panto season is back, and back with a bang in the town of Woking.  This years festive offering is one all families will have grown up reading and one that children are told throughout their childhood…Peter Pan! This giant of a pantomime takes you on an enchanting star-studded flight to Neverland, past the second star on the right and straight on, until Sunday January 7th.  

The story of Wendy, John and Michael Darling, three children of the Darling family, who are visited by Peter Pan ‘the boy who never grew up’ has rarely changed in over 100 years. Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are regularly enchanting audiences across the land each Christmas, however, Alan McHugh (Writer) and Alan Burkitt (Director) offer a slightly different take on the classic fairy-tale, a refreshed high-flying adventure, sure to win over children and adults this Christmas. 

The New Victoria Theatre in Woking opened in 1992, making it a relatively new complex in the theatre world. There was a real buzz of anticipation surrounding the auditorium waiting for the curtain to raise and the fairy-tale to begin.  As the show opened, music started up and the lights dimmed, a night of magical theatre began. One which involved fun, games, jokes, magic tricks and lots and lots of laughter.  

As always, a star-studded cast will entice audiences and fill seats each Christmas and this year is no different. Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton Du Beke stars as Smee, with comedian Paul Chuckle as Starkey, Nigel Ellacott as Mrs Smee and Archie Durrant as Peter Pan. The cast is completed with Chloe Riley (Wendy), Bob Harms (Captain Hook), Georgia Brierly-Smith (Tink) and local young performers sharing roles.  

Anton Du Beke is one of the most instantly recognisable faces in television, through Strictly Come Dancing and who played a key role in helping to bring dancing back to primetime television. Anton is a natural born entertainer and demonstrates his theatrical expertise in the role of Smee. Bringing both a comedic and energetic feel to the role regularly sending the audience into a rapture of laughter. Anton is a born showman and appeared extremely relaxed in front of the Woking audience.  

Paul Chuckle is known as one half of much-loved comedy pair ‘The Chuckle Brothers’, alongside his late brother Barry. Their unique style and family-based humour captured audiences throughout three decades, a comedy style perfect for pantomime, a true born entertainer and extremely comfortable in front of an audience. This is no different in Peter Pan, portraying Starkey - brother of Smee, Paul brings a heap of laughter to the show, regularly interacting with the audience in sing-a-long songs, funny game shows and a particularly funny audience participation story involving four parents, a lot of mess and plenty of laughs. 

Nigel Ellacott stars as the Panto Dame and certainly does not disappoint. Nigel has been involved in 49 years’ worth of pantomimes and Peter Pan will be his 50th panto; the majority of roles as Dame. This certainly shows in Peter Pan, Nigel offers a masterclass, with a suite of jokes and innuendos, enough to keep the audience in tears of laughter until the very end.  

The audience are treated to an exceptional array of special FX, from sparks and bangs (when you least expect them) to high-flying cast through several moments of the show. It truly felt like Peter Pan and the cast were flying away in front of our very eyes. The creative team behind this year’s panto have helped create a truly spectacular backdrop, one in which the audience can simply close their eyes and imagine our own journey into Neverland and beyond.

If you wish to see a pantomime this Christmas, go and see Peter Pan at New Victoria Theatre Woking! 

The show was reviewed on Tuesday 12th December. Peter Pan runs at the New Victoria Theatre until Sunday 7th January 2024. Tickets available here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/peter-pan/new-victoria-theatre/

Reviewed by Stuart Midwinter 

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Photo credit: Ian Olsson

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