Last year, pantomime perennial Simon Fielding quizzed audiences with festive show requests for 12 months time. With the JM Barrie classic a unanimous choice, Fielding and writer Brad Fitt once again prove a productive partnership.
Once far far away from the quaint Darling nursery, storybook Neverland appears, conveniently rotating seamlessly between the lost boys camouflaged hideout and the imposing Jolly Rodger, housing Bryan Torfeh’s conniving Captain Hook.
For all Fielding’s aerial Pan prowess and Dave Short’s titillating Smee tomfoolery, Towngate’s production runs on girl power, typified by Sophie Ladds, wisely trusted to juggle a spectrum of characters.
Sprinkling exotic Aussie stardust on witty Tinker Bell, when an opportunity arrives to rousingly flex her vocal chords, animated Julie Yammanee’s full-bodied heartfelt voice defies her stature, akin to Victoria Farley’s delightful Wendy.
The synchronised mesmeric dance troupe’s flexible array of nimble tumbles, twists and elaborate lifts, are a joy to watch, epitomised during the spine-tingling Who Want’s to Live Forever first act crescendo. Better still, a frenetic tribal native Indian war dance would have even the All Blacks running scared.
The X Factor may have concluded, yet follow the second star to the right and straight on until morning and you’ll find there’s still plenty on show in Basildon.