Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Peter Pan - Birmingham Rep Theatre

Peter Pan by JM Barrie adapted by Willis Hall
Music & Lyrics by George Stiles & Anthony Drew
Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
Reviewed by Robert Yates

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure at the Rep Theatre in Birmingham is a success story for musicals designed for both children and adults excellently written by Stiles & Drew. Before the musical had even begun ripples of laughter could be heard from the children and adults alike in the audience as Captain Hook, with his clever wit requested phones to be turned off. The musical opened with an atmospheric number featuring the company as members of the public on a cold wintry night setting the scene well for the first time we meet the Darling family. The storyteller, Gay Soper was brilliant as a guide through the story with a strong voice and a presence that meant she could dominate a scene while not looking out of place in all the different sets.

The arrival of Peter is a triumph for the cable guys back stage as his flights across the stage are a chance for them to show off. Peter Caulfield is confident in the flying scenes in contrast to Darling children, which fits with the story as Peter has flown an awful lot more than the Darling children.

The lost boys bring a youthful exuberance to the stage, full of fun and games, with boundless energy. They are a delight to watch. The pirates also bring a lot of character to the stage, each with a different accent bringing numerous comedy moments to the stage. Not least the musical number ‘It’s a Curse to be a Pirate with a Conscience’. Led by Smee, played by Gerard Carey, who excelled in the role and had a voice that had great character, the song and dance is brilliantly choreographed. The comedy even gets to Captain Hook, played by David Birrell, who is exceptional in the dichotomy of roles of tortured Captain and funny pirate. This musical number was definitely a personal highlight, and gained one of the largest applauses from the audience.
The final act of the show back in the Darling’s household brought the story back round full circle and allowed the storyteller to slip seamlessly into the role of old Wendy. Also with the final act comes Peter’s defiance to growing up. The final chorus with all the cast on stage provides a fitting end to an enjoyable show mainly for children but with just enough humour to appeal to the adults, especially those wishing they too had never grown up

Photos by Robert day - Top; Peter Caulfield (Peter) & Gina Beck (wendy), Middle; Lost Boys. Bottom; David Birrell (Hook) & Pirate Ensemble
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