PANTO season in Bath has got off to a flying start with the launch of this year’s offering, Peter Pan.
The infamous tale of the boy who never grew up has been dusted with some rewritten pop songs, elaborate costumes and a sprinkling of celebrity magic to become a fabulous festive pantomime sure to delight all the family.
After explaining to your little ones why Peter is played a girl (Jessica Punch) again this year, sit back, relax and prepare to lose your voice as you clap, hiss and boo, cheer and shout your way through this two-and-a-half hour adventure.
Punch is excellent as our swashbuckling, adventure-seeking hero and takes to the air on numerous occasions with the gusto you’d expect from a child who can fly.
Joanna Forest as Wendy is perfectly-cast as the too-good-to-be-true eldest Darling who wants to mother all lost little boys and she leads the younger actors admirably. Victoria Hay as roller-skating fairy Tinkerbell is better than pantomime requires in a performance she should be proud of.
Cliff Parisi, known to millions as Minty from EastEnders, is Mr Darling and our baddie, Captain Hook. TV’s most loveable rogue has morphed into Neverland’s biggest villain with cackling and hook-brandishing aplenty.
But it was Bath’s best-loved double act, dame Chris Harris and clown Jon Monie, this year as Governess Gertie and Smee, who really get the crowd going. Harris has been doing panto for years but his enthusiasm for nonsense and slapstick silliness shows no sign of abating as he rushes about the stage cooking sausage crumble and shooting water pistols at the audience. Monie is also no stranger to this comedy lark and certainly gets the most laughs as the put-upon son and general skivvy.
The Nitwits pirate troupe of acrobats act as a fun-filled ensemble before stealing the show with a fast-paced display of tricks and jumps on a trampoline and gymnastics vault.
As is the annual tradition, the Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance has provided a young cast of dancers who are a lovely. aaw-inducing addition to the stage with their balletic performances and Indian dances.
This year’s story was packed with more plot than most pantomimes and is a variation on the normal 'princess finds her prince' leading to a wedding finale. But this is a welcome change and one which doesn’t miss out the all-important audience participation, cute kids on stage and singing along throughout the show.
Impressive sets and a live band complete this fantastic family production which is bound to get everyone in the mood for Christmas and leave your little ones excited and exhausted.
Peter Pan is on at the Theatre Royal Bath until January 12.