As a panto sceptic recently returned to the fold of fun, I would urge you to run and buy a seat at the nearest panto to you right now. It’s the perfect cure for the winter (and Christmas stress) blues, taking you back to being a kid again.
What has provoked this transformation? A wonderful, hysterical evening at The Churchill in Bromley and the delights of Peter Pan. I haven’t laughed so much in ages, and it was fantastic to see so many of the children in the audience responding to the show – one little girl sitting near us was straining with every fibre of her being to warn Peter that Hook was about to murder him in his sleep.
It helps to have an excellent cast, led here by Starsky and Hutch’s Paul Michael Glaser (be still my heart), displaying an excellent English accent (I didn’t recognise him when he first came on as a result) and a deft hand for comedy. His partner in crime was Andy Ford as Smee, a panto veteran and a dab hand at getting both children and adults to do the daftest things (although one of the children brought up from the audience to appear with him clearly had no idea what a panto was and who this buffoon was – a nightmare for the actor, but exceedingly funny for the audience).
If ever I need a quick lift, I’ll just have to think of a truly silly skit they did involving mis-hearing phrases being translated into pop groups (for example, Hook saying he wasn’t a proper pirate because he didn’t have a black eyepiece brought on the Black Eyed Peas). It’s not often you get to see a former heartthrob of yours doing the iconic Beyonce dance I can tell you!
We had dashing, glam rock pirates, sexy Indian maidens and a perky Peter Pan in the shape of Joe Tracini (who unfortunately tended to doggy-paddle instead of flying elegantly). A boy playing a boy in a panto? Whatever next?! The children and the Lost Boys all put in sterling support, too. A special mention should go to all the participants in the traditional ‘If I were not a pirate…’ song (you know, ‘If I were not a pirate, David Beckham would I be’ etc), which requires precision timing and fearlessness and was cleverly and professionally done here. The sets were truly beautiful and the special effects cleverly done. All in all, a spectacular evening’s entertainment.
So do yourself a favour and get along to your local theatre now. But before you go, do practice. All together now: behind you!
Peter Pan is at the Churchill until January 13 (0870 060 6620; www.theambassadors.com/Churchill)