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.