BIGGER, better and with more audience participation than ever before, Peter Pan flies on to the stage of the King’s this week, giving the Leven Street theatre its most thrilling pantomime in a decade.
* * * * *
King’s chief executive Duncan Hendry and new executive producer Michael Harrison, together with director Ed Curtis, have waved their magic wands to deliver a raucous traditional panto with some state-of the art 21st century twists.
Harrison’s pacy script, co-written with Allan Stewart, takes JM Barrie’s Peter Pan and transforms it into a swashbuckling adventure set right here in the Capital. From the opening bars of New Town Girl – sung to the tune of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl – there’s no doubting where we are.
The Darlings and their children, Wendy, Michael and John, live in a New Town toon hoose on Charlotte Square, with their servants Mr and Mrs Smee, and acrobatic dog Nana. However, when Peter Pan comes calling, the kids and the Smees soon find themselves embarking on an awfully big adventure.
That Stewart is the doyen of Scottish Dames, there is little doubt, and from the moment he arrives on stage in a hot air balloon, he works the audience with ease; cajoling, teasing and embarrassing in equal measure – not least when he explores the stalls armed with a radio mic during the song sheet.
Yes, for the first time in many a year, the cry “Bring doon the cloot” reverberates around the auditorium, before an inspired sing-along.
Stott, too, is on fine snarling form as the ranting Captain Hook, always quick with a Jambo gag, while relishing a cacophony of boos.
But it is Gray, at the top of his game as the wonderfully gormless Hector Smee, who makes the art of panto look effortless. With little more than an often repeated word – who knew “balloon” could be so funny? – or a simple look, he induces tears of laughter.
And the talent doesn’t stop there, the ensemble is equally strong. Daniel Healy is an engaging Peter Pan, Shona White is a feisty Tinkerbell, Maggie Lynne a lovable Wendy, and Miriam Well-Sutton a nicely judged Tiger Lily. All have big voices for the equally big numbers.
Throw in the most incredible crocodile you will ever see, hilarious routines old and new, and a showstopping cameo from an Edinburgh legend, and you have a panto that will keep you hooked from start to finish.
A new exciting era of King’s pantos has just begun.
Run ends January 19, 2014