Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure

Presented by Adelaide Youth Theatre
Reviewed Friday 27th April 2012
Sir Jame’s M. Barrie’s tale of the boy who would not grow up has been delighting children for generations and is now reborn in yet another musical version, thanks to George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, with the late Willis Hall. Coming together from all over the state, 65 young people of ages 8 to 18 spent 11 days rehearsing, and this production is the result.
There would be few people who do not have at least a basic knowledge of the tale of the boy whose shadow was trapped by Mrs. Darling and who, when he and the fairy, Tinkerbell, returned to find it, took the three Darling children, Wendy, John and Michael, away with him to Neverland. Here they meet the Lost Boys, the Mermaids, Tiger Lily and the Indians and, of course, Peter’s arch enemy, Captain Hook, and his pirate band, with his much put-upon first mate, Smee.
In 2001 this musical was first broadcast on BBC radio, with some big name actors in the cast. It then transferred to the stage and was extensively revised to become the version produced by this group. I can’t imagine any earlier productions, however, being performed with anything even approaching the enormous energy and enthusiasm as we see in this one. These young performers give it their all from start to finish.
A good many of the main roles are shared between two people on alternating nights so that more young folk have the opportunity to have the opportunity of this experience. This review, therefore, relates to the cast that I saw. A few of the roles, however, are not shared and one of these, Captain James Hook, is played by Benji Riggs who is imposing in the role of the wicked pirate leader. He makes an excellent villain.
Ben Johnson is Hooks’s right (or left) hand man, Mr. Smee, sometimes mentioned as the first mate but also referred to in other sources as the bo’sun. He is the primary comic relief in the pirate crew, and Johnson know just how to get the laughs without deliberately playing for them.
The role of John for all performances is played by Ben Francis, but Wendy and Michael alternate, being played by Georgia Broomhall and Jayden Prelc on the night. Broomhill gives a fine performance as the girl who finds herself suddenly having to take on the job of being mother to all of the Lost Boys, with little help from Peter. Francis and Prelc also do a great job as her brothers, and could easily have just stepped out of the Disney film.
Peter Pan was played by Lachlan Williams and Tinkerbell was Shalani Wood. Williams gives us a lively Peter who is full of his own self-importance and an air of belief in his invulnerability, as do many young people who have yet to discover that the real world does not agree. Peter, of course, has refused to grow up, and Neverland keeps that real world at bay. Wood was as bright as a whole row of shiny silver buttons, delightfully displaying her jealousy at Peter’s friendship with Wendy, a good degree of cheekiness to everybody, and considerable acrobatic skills.
The many smaller roles are all well cast, too, but even the ‘chorus’ all show characters of their own, with lots of great facial expressions and body language going on in the background.
Director, Jason Sarti, Musical Director, Brenton Shaw, and Choreographer, Amber Platten, deserve to be proud of what they have done with this large ensemble in such a short time. The sets and costumes are to be commended, too, as is the lighting. The orchestra must not be overlooked either for their sensitive and accurater playing.
If you can get tickets, do so, and take the entire family. They’ll love you for it.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Star Theatres, Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton
Season: 2pm and 7pm Sat 28th and 2pm Sun 29th April 2012
Duration: 2hrs 35mins (incl. interval)
Tickets: Adults $30/concession $25/ children 12 and under $20
Bookings: Bookings are now closed at BASS but limited tickets may be available at the door.

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