When Tamworth Arts Club chose George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure for their 2017 show they were hoping to be back in the Assembly Rooms. Unfortunately issues with the refurbishment of that venue have seen them gamely staging this very technical show in the unforgiving Landau Forte Academy Theatre. Under the circumstances – no flies, very little wing space, a small playing area reduced in size by the necessity of placing the band at the back of the stage – the technical crew have done extremely well to get the show up and running and flowing well.
The self-constructed set is simple but bright and effective. Costumes add greatly to the overall effect of the show, and the ingenious puppet dog, Nana (puppeteered by Karen Louise Terry) was a very nice touch.
The performances were on the whole strong, especially Storyteller Fiona Ball, who held the show together with great poise and tenderness. The double act of suave Hook (the mellifluous James Gorton) and a very camp Smee (Andrew Gilman) was very effective, especially in the act 2 opener Rose Tinted Eye Patch. And the two young leads Callum Davies (Peter) and Kayleigh Sparks (Wendy) overcame some first night nerves to deliver performances that showed plenty of promise for the future. Callum’s performance of There’s Always Tomorrow to close the show was a real musical highlight.
There were more problematic moments; some of the traditional tender scenes (Wendy and Peter exchanging “kisses”, and Tink’s drinking of the poison and reanimation) seemed a little rushed. And it would have been nice to see some more individual characterization in the adult pirate chorus. It was clear that space was limited, and partly hampered by the venue and facilities, this was a production of a magical story that clearly showcased a lot of very well meaning hard work, but it lost a little sparkle.
But there were also several younger members of the cast (Lost Boys) taking part in their first ever stage performances this week. They all worked really hard, and I hope they have a memorable and enjoyable time, and come back for more very soon. And the best way to encourage them is for more people to go and support them in this first performance.
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