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Flying high in Neverland with Danny and co; This year's Theatre Royal panto invites us on a trip to Neverland. SAM WONFOR reports on an evening of swashbuckling slapstick.

Byline: SAM WONFOR

If there was a perfect panto part for the on-stage persona of Danny Adams, then the boy who never grew up must surely be it.

Who else could possibly lead the cast for this year's record-breaking festive turn at Newcastle Theatre Royal, Peter Pan: The High-flying Pantomime Adventure? To be fair, Danny has been pretty much out front for the past 13 years. He and real-life dad Clive Webb have slapped, flown, soaked and sewn themselves into the heart of panto proceedings at the venue - and of those who flock to see them.

You'll rarely see a pop, soap or reality TV star on the giant posters for the Theatre Royal's festive show.

Danny and Clive - supported by long-serving dame Chris Hayward, resident baddie Steve Arnott and (more recently) Peter 'Bobby Thompson' Peverley - are the only stars required to attach bums to velvety seats. And this year's pantomime take on JM Barrie's swashbuckling story is no different.

With a flying Danny as the aforementioned Peter Pan, the opening number invited us to Come Feel The Magic. They didn't have to ask twice.

Before we knew it, we, along with Mr and Mrs Smee (Clive and Chris), Wendy, Michael and John were off to Neverland via a screen-heavy flying sequence, which culminated in Mrs Smee looping-the-loop over her audience of 'bonny bairns' on a pink motor scooter. All the dames are flying them these days.

After a quick introduction to Tinkerbell - played in sugary fashion by last year's Cinderella, singer Laura Evans - the arrival of the 'Godfather of the Byker Massive' (aka 'Champion Radgie of Neverland', aka Captain Hook) and his right-hand little waster, Starkey (Peter Peverley), came with a thunderclap, which gave my little lass the first of many opportunities to jump out of her seat.

A scary encounter with a massive crocodile called Tick Tock offered another.

She was also given more chances than we could count to giggle herself silly at the non-stop stream of widely-pitched jokes, set-pieces and musical numbers as the gang's Neverland adventures continued, including encounters with Big Chief Tiger Billy, played smashingly by last year's Dandini, Wayne Smith, and Michael Potts' Lost Idiot.

There were also plenty of proper wow moments courtesy of some newcomers, Kenyan acrobat sensations The Timbuktu Tumblers and rola rola balancing act, Sasha Williams.

Meanwhile, from the rooftops of the Darlings' back yard to the deck of the dastardly Captain Hook's pirate ship, a parade of sets offered a sumptuous backdrop to a pantoperfect blend of song, spectacle and slapstick.

If I was being picky I'd say I was slightly disappointed at the lack of a 'messy moment'. There's nothing quite like the anticipation when Danny unrolls waterproof sheeting with a twinkle in his eye.

But all in all, this year's Theatre Royal panto, again written, directed and produced by Wallsend's own Michael Harrison, is another triumph. If you've got tickets, you're in for a treat.

Peter Pan - the High Flying Pantomime Adventure runs until January 21. Tickets: www.theatreroyal.co.uk or tel. 08448 11 21 21.

You'll rarely see a pop, soap or reality TV star on the giant posters for the Theatre Royal's festive show.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 2, 2017
Words:531
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