PACKED full of jokes and fantastic musical numbers, Peter Pan is a Christmas cracker of a panto – but it lacks the sparkle of its predecessor.
Astrologer-turned-Strictly Come Dancing star Russell Grant is the Aylesbury Waterside’s big name, playing the role of Roger the Cabin Boy (steady!) who answers to an advert for a new crewman aboard Captain Hook’s ship.
Grant shimmies his way through the show as the second comic turn, with Andy Collins’ Smee leading the slapstick interaction with the audience.
But it’s Steven Serlin whose star shines the brightest as the evil Captain Hook, picking up his own baton from last year’s star-turn as Dick Whittington’s nemesis King Rat.
Serlin’s banter with the crowd, his stage presence and incredible vocal talents stole the show hands (or should that be hook) down.
Two other created characters, the divas played by Bobbie Gordon and Ngozi Ugoh, were a fantastic addition, adding a sassy swagger to the show as they beautifully performed a number of Motown and chart hits.
The sets are stunning and some of the special effects are excellent.
But the show’s protagonist, Peter Pan (Adam Pettigrew), is relegated to a bit-part character to allow the production’s bigger named actors to showcase their talents, which stifles the ever popular J.M. Barrie story.
And Holly Brewer, who plays Wendy Darling, is also only given a single slot at the start of the second act to unleash her singing abilities.
While Dick Whittington was tailored to both adults and the children, Peter Pan is more for the youngsters, who were amazed by the flying stunts, the Tinkerbell special effects and the silly slapstick comedy.
The adults weren’t left out entirely with jokes about Strictly, X-Factor, High Speed 2 and, of course, a few innuendo-laden quips thrown in – but whether it was first night glitches, a spark was missing at times.
Overall, Peter Pan is fun, has fantastic set pieces and brilliant vocal performances – if you have children, it’s the perfect pantomime for them.
But while Dick Whittington ticked every box, Peter Pan feels like it could do with a sprinkling of its own magical fairy dust for it to fly past last year’s panto spectacular.