Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

A packed auditorium had a brilliant evening away from the modern day pressures of preparing for Christmas and instead watched a new musical adaptation of the JM Barrie classic “Peter Pan”. Set in Edwardian Bloomsbury right from the very first scene we are treated to a wonderful atmosphere created by a stunning set and immaculate costumes and designer Peter McKintosh has really pulled out all the stops to dazzle the audience. This new version by the late Willis Hall makes the dialogue easy to follow and for the children in the audience and there were plenty, it kept their interest too. The music and lyrics are by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and the orchestrations are by David Shrubsole. Director Rachel Kavanaugh brings to life all the well known characters of the story. The production has all the qualities of a successful West End show and the musical numbers are at times nostalgic and at others exciting and courageous. The orchestra was excellent and it was good to hear some super percussion sounds throughout the show. The sound balance was just right and you could hear everything that was spoken. Our narrator is played by Gay Soper who dressed in Edwardian finery takes us on our journey and ensures that we keep up with the plot. Her opening song “There’s Something in the Air Tonight” sets the scene well and introduces a large cast. The Darling Family are charming and even their huge dog Nana is well behaved and the nursery scenes nostalgic, bringing together Wendy, played sympathetically by Gina Beck with an energetic Peter Pan played by Peter Caulfield. Peter was a great success with the audience and he really brought the role to life. The voice of Tinkerbell is played by Fiona Dunn and her stage presence cleverly handled but you’ll have to see how for yourselves. The Lost Boys are a colourful and boisterous gang and they inhabit a magical Neverland where the treacherous Captain Hook and his crew have only dastardly thoughts in mind. Captain Hook, played by David Birrell is at all times larger than life and has a great rapportwith Smee played by Gerard Carey who adds some comedy too. The appearance of a giant crocodile terrifies them but there is still plenty of time for wel lchoreographed sword fights between Peter and the Captain. Watch out for the crocodile…

There are many outstanding scenes but, for scale and impact, everything on board the deck of the Jolly Roger worked brilliantly and its blue and silver colours were a contrast to the jungle greens and yellows and darker shades of Bloomsbury. The high wire flying of Peter Pan is outstanding and the huge stage allows the most to be made of the scene where the Darling children fly off to Neverland with Peter.

Musically the show was very enjoyable with plenty of changes of pace and easy on the ear vocals too. It was a perfect way to start the Christmas festivities and is yet another in a long run of shows that have continued to make the Rep so successful. The show runs until 19 January 2008 and is a must see experience.

Review by Clive Fuller
To book tickets or see news of forthcoming plays at the Birmingham Rep, visit http://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk