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Macclesfield Express - - REVIEW -

HERE’S a point about half­way through Prest­bury Youth Pan­tomime’s pro­duc­tion of Peter Pan, when Cap­tain Hook sim­ply can’t pro­nounce ‘mag­nif­i­cent’.

Ev­ery­one’s had a mo­ment like this - where the tongue ties up and a word just won’t come out. But, when it hap­pens you’re usu­ally not on stage in front of an au­di­to­rium full of peo­ple.

So, what hap­pens next? An un­easy si­lence? Deaf­en­ing awk­ward­ness?

Not at all, in­stead the ac­tors im­pro­vise, riff­ing on Hook’s trou­ble, and pok­ing fun at them­selves in the true tra­di­tion of panto. This mo­ment is just one ex­am­ple of the sheer bril­liance of the pro­duc­tion’s as­sem­bled cast

Through­out Sam Ashall, as Hook, shines, and the new ad­di­tion of the character Mrs Hook, the pi­rate cap­tain’s mum, adds the per­fect comic foil to his cru­elly camp buc­ca­neer.

Now in its 36 year, Prest­bury Youth Panto’s Peter Pan at Mac­cles­field’s Mads Lit­tle The­atre must surely be one of its best ever pro­duc­tions. Its di­rec­tor Suzan Holder - mar­ried to Slade front man Noddy - also wrote the script and stands in the eaves will­ing her young wards on.

There’s laugh­ter, jeers, flights through the night sky and a se­ries of spec­tac­u­lar rou­tines. The dy­namic set shifts and trans­forms as the chil­dren travel from their nurs­ery to Nev­er­land.

Rather than rely on di­a­logue to pro­pel the plot for­wards, there’s an ar­ray of songs – in­clud­ing Kate Bush’s ‘Man with the Child in his Eyes’ and, of course, Slade’s ‘Cum on Feel the Noise’ - and its dur­ing th­ese we see another of the cast’s main strengths: their voices. They quiver and qua­ver and, as the as­sem­bled 46 cast mem­bers con­gre­gate for a num­ber of rou­tines, soar. In-jokes about ‘stressed pan­tomime direc­tors’ and ‘70s rock band front men’ abound, and you get the feel­ing JM Bar­rie would be proud to see his book adapted so deftly. The pro­duc­tion re­ally is the per­fect fi­nale to the fes­tive sea­son.

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