Peter Panto

2 Dec 2017, CHB Municipal Theatre
Waipawa Musical and Dramatic Club

Tis the time of year to be tired and over-booked. Saturday was already over-subscribed, and if truth be told I preferred the picture of me sleeping in front of the telly…. But there were kids from CHB College in the play and this was the final night so I dragged my reluctant old bones, with whānau in tow, off to the show.

I am so glad I did. Magic from start to finish.

With the audience primed, with our boos and hisses practised, with permission given to cheer and shout “OH YES HE DID” we were laughing and leaping well before the curtain made its first ascent.

The curtain rose to a darkened stage and a group of tightly packed children and teens dressed in black; we could see they were there only by the tiny white lights they held to their faces. They sang and we melted, they left, the lights came up and we were off. Mr and Mrs Darling (John Brans and Megan Lee) were out for the night. Nana, gorgeous Nana (Arabella Gunson stealing laughs and hearts) was left to babysit.

We all know what happens next. JM Barrie’s Peter Pan has been part of our collective lives since 1904 so I’m just going to have a little rave about the principal actors.

Peter Pan: My seven-year-old grand aughter, Rebecca, felt that Peter Pan had talked to her directly and we were not allowed to leave the theatre until these two had met –  a forever memory created thank you! Charlotte Oram’s performance was of the consummate variety; every movement, every line, every song was easy, compact, believable…what a gift to the show.

Tinkerbell: I have seen David Berry perform many times over the years and this was his role, the role he was made for. He buffooned, crashed, thumped, banged, sung and loved his way to victory.

Captain Hook: a world-class performance. The perfect villain…those eyes, the audience interaction! Suzanne Earnshaw McLaren commanded the stage and the show.

Wendy: The glue, the beautiful glue and that voice! I have a feeling we will be seeing Alanna Barkle on stage here or elsewhere for many years to come.

The casting was perfect. Smee (Morley Davis) was funny and endearing, John, Michael, the lost boys, the pirates, all roles which showcased our talented next generation…these teens, and younger, all sparked and threw themselves into their roles.  The crocodile (go the prop team!) was clever and worked masterfully, and the ensemble added costume colour and voice. Dramatic lighting, hilarious sound, wonderful choreography, great set design, I wanted to steal the costumes and live music. Huge thanks and appreciation to the directors, Simon Law and Madeleine Howard,  and to all involved for bringing us such a wonderful experience.

I could have spent the whole night just watching the faces of my grandies – ‘awestruck’, in a word. Final impression locked in was turning around and seeing the audience up on its feet dancing ‘The Timewarp’…audience participation perfection. I wish every child in CHB could have seen this Panto…every school bussed in… happy days!


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