Peter Pan

Peter Pan
By James Barrie, Carolyn Leigh, Morris Charlap, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jule Styne and Jerome Robbins. Directed by Blake Jenkins and Neroli Sweetman. Koorliny Arts Centre, WA. Nov 17- 25, 2023

Peter Pan, in its many forms, is a production that it continues to be a favourite. With several versions playing in Western Australia at the moment, and the credit appearing in many of this cast’s biographies. This production manages to find some points of difference and is a quality production with strong production values.

The set, designed by Quantum Building Services, Stephen Carr, and Peter (Pear) Carr, has a sense of the magical, with the backdrop a curtain of hanging lights. Well-appointed furnishings take us from bedroom, through the clouds to Neverland and on to the Jolly Roger. Costuming, by Melissa Kelly, Matilda Jenkins and Katherine Freind is fun and of good quality, nods to tradition, but finds some new quirks. Lighting design, by Chloe Palliser, is very strong and with Tinkerbell played by the lighting box, there are some moments to literally shine.

The cast perform to a quality backing track, with Musical Director Justin Freind refining some great voices. Sound design by Andrew Lacey is generally good, but on opening night, there were times when the balance could have favoured the cast more, and microphone management wasn’t always perfect.

Christie McGarrity shines as Peter. A Principal Boy with a gorgeous swagger, she has an endearing cheekiness and sings stunningly. Jordyn Gallop works beautifully as Wendy, managing to give her notable depth and showcasing a pretty voice. Rounding out the principal roles is Ryan Taaffe, completing the traditional doubling as Mr Darling and Captain Hook – and is a very worthy adversary.

The Darling Family are truly darling. Katherine Freind brings love and lovely vocals to Mother – Mrs Darling. John is played with forthrightness by Matt Ballantine, while Eli Dale, who shares the role with Jack Sharma, was a believable Michael. Matthew Holmes brings lovely physicality to canine nursemaid Nanna (and later to the Crocodile) while housemaid Liza, who inadvertently ends up in Neverland, was well played by Melissa Kelly. To close the show, Zara Consen is a very sweet Jane.

A pack of energetic Lost Boys have a lovely camaraderie and perform some of the liveliest parts of Matilda Jenkins’ energetic and creative choreography. Great teamwork from Sophie Lewin (Slightly), Ruby Slater (Curly), Sienna Pettit (Tootles) and Charlotte and Lily Wakeling as The Twins.

A small group of Amazon-like Neverland Natives dance and fight beautifully, led by a determined Kayla Brown as Tiger Lily.

The Pirates in this production tend more to the camp than the frightening, with Rp Van der Westhuizen shining as a twinkling eyed Smee, nicely supported by Tori Brown (Cecco), Sophie Newall (Starkey) and the Pirate Crew.

Lots of magic to delight the family – including a fun solution to flying on stage. If you believe in fairies (and you should) you should make the effort to get to this show.

Kimberley Shaw

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