What comes round once a year? Why, it’s the Hastings White Rock Theatre Christmas pantomime of course. (Oh yes it is).
I went along to the second night and found the theatre jam-packed with mums and dads and excited children waving around brightly illuminated glow sticks and wands.
Peter Pan is played by Jaymi Hensley of boy band Union J while Captain Hook is played by Sean Chambers and the ever so lovely Wendy by Nina Bell. Ben Watson is back for his fifth year in Hastings pantomime as Smee the reluctant friend of Captain Hook.
The story for those not versed in the swashbuckling tale centres around Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up and makes himself known to the children of the Darling family while he looks for his shadow. Peter asks the children to believe in fairies and with a little help from magic dust sprinkled from Tinkerbell, played by Katrina Perrott, the children are soon flying around the bedroom.
The flying scenes are well coordinated and I’m sure youngsters in the large audience were mesmerised by the Darling children floating above their beds. We were then treated to some wonderful songs such as I’ll Carry You which was beautifully performed by Jaymi; one thing’s for sure, this guy can sing!
Ben Watson as Smee was world class and pops up throughout the pantomime engaging with the children with his boundless enthusiasm.
The action moves from the bedroom to the magical Neverland where further adventures await with pirates and Indians and of course, the Lost Boys.
Any pantomime is partly judged by its staging, and the sets of Peter Pan are truly superb.
The show is peppered with many songs which are all beautifully performed by a well drilled cast, such as You Raise Me Up, and I Am What I Am. And of course a pantomime wouldn’t be a pantomime without the customary pantomime gags, and Smee and Tiger Lily (played by Danielle Black) have the audience in fits of laughter - especially with the razor blade joke.
Look out for the pirate scene with the frying pan which was hilarious, as was the scene with Captain Hook and Smee trying to find out who was in cave one! pure comedy genius.
During the show, the audience had a chance to throw foam rocks at the nasty Captain Hook supplied by the White Rock staff and as all this was going on, gorillas were running about with Smee on stage with children in the audience shouting out “They’re behind you!” Yes pure pantomime, pure good fun.
This pantomime had it all from firework explosions on stage from a crocodile sliding along the floor from the wings. There was magnificent scenery, beautiful costumes, an abundance of comedy and stunning flying sequences. Mention should also be made to the band at the front of the stage for helping make the songs so special.
For me as the Observer reviewer the star of the show was once again Ben Watson as Smee who put on the performance of his life, he was simply outstanding. Jaymi Hensley as Peter Pan is truly a wonderful singer and played Peter to perfection. Shaun Chambers as Captain Hook and the villain of the piece was customarily booed every time he came on stage. I find it amazing that all these wonderful actors can retain the enthusiasm vigour and stamina to do two performances a day - simply incredible.
This is a fun-filled magical show full of song, music and laughs performed to perfection by a great cast who kept the large White Rock Theatre entertained. It takes a lot of people to put on a show this good and executive producer Daryl Black along with Director Luke Sheppard and the many others in the background should be congratulated for making a great family show, entertainment at its best. Don’t miss it.
By Malcolm Robinson.
Have you checked out our new Christmas section yet?
It’s packed with ideas and tips to ensure you make the most out of the festive season.
There’s recipes, suggestions for presents and everything from choosing your tree to recycling your packaging and paper.