Following a disappointing Aladdin, the Ashcroft panto returns on top form with this wonderful Peter Pan. John Challis heads a strong line-up, scaring the pants off the front rows as a menacing Captain Hook. Pitted against him, with fights arranged by Karl Magee, is Kirsten O’Brien’s personable, tomboyish Peter, aided by Jessica Bell’s Tinkerbell, a roller-skating fairy with attitude. Hot favourite with his clean and funny patter is Barnaby ad-libbing as Smee and Marie Kay McCullough is a sweet and strong-voiced Wendy. The Acromaniacs, led by Gary Cross, make superb pirates, their comedy acrobatics bringing delighted squeals, and Frankie Clary (Julian’s sister) as the Magic Mermaid and Hayley Newnes as Tiger Lily both add sparkle. Rupert Bradshaw speaks up clearly as John and Jack Robertshaw plays Michael.
As ever at the Ashcroft, costumes are colourful throughout and extravagant in the finale and sets both in Neverland and on the Jolly Roger are spectacular. Dancers Louie Anne Batley, Anya Willis, Simon Archer, Jeff McDaid, Georgina Fisher and Kimberly Fletcher are excellent and the Babes, from the Cavat School of Theatre Arts, are convincing.
Fast-paced and fun, Jon Conway and Alan Harding turn on the style with their version of a classic.