The magic that is Peter Pan

I say it every year: Christmas begins with the Late Late Toy Show and the Derry Panto. The Toy Show was last Friday night and I loved it from start to finish. I’ve just watched the Derry panto earlier tonight. Did I love it?…..I’m in love with it, I am in total awe of what panto can do…and I’m now officially announcing CHRISTMAS. The Derry Panto is just so utterly wonderful. I can’t find a word stronger than love, so yes, I loved it.
Oh yes it is…Oh no it isn’t….. Oh yes it really is fantastic.

Peter, Wendy and the Darling Family took me, and the rest of tonight’s audience, on a spine tingling adventure to Neverland, where we met Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and his murderous motley crew. We were all aboard the Jolly Rodger pirate ship?
William Caulfield leads the hugely talented Northern Irish cast as the dastardly, Captain Hook, with local actress, Ellen Hasson, in the title role of Peter Pan.  They are joined onstage by Conor O’Kane as the hilarious sidekick, Smee, Annie McCarroll as Wendy and Kathryn Rutherford as Tiger Lily.

From the onset tonight, this was magical. The Darling family warmed us on opening and we all travelled with Wendy and her brothers as they flew (magically) with Peter Pan to Neverland. Superb graphics and flying really did have us believing.

As always this was contemporary at every turn. The Greatest Showman, Queen, Baby Shark, Take That, you name it, this show had it. From a tick-tocking crocodile to fire sticks in the air, Indians to mermaids, this was a jam-packed performance. 

But what always resonates with this panto is the connection with the audience. Panto is all about the actors and how they connect with us, the spectators. It just works with this cast. William Caulfield may have been playing the dreadful Hook, but one can’t help but love him. He might hate children but we do love him. Hook or not, William Caulfield warms the very cockles of your heart. 

Likewise Conor O’Kane always delivers. It’s the comic element of Conor’s panto work that allows the children and adults alike to adore his every move. Captain Hook may have called him ‘stupid’, but we know he’s everything but.

Ellen Hasson really did excel in her role as Peter Pan. She showcased everything I personally believe in – the magic of the imagination, of storytelling and of staying young. Approaching 50 next year, I plan never to grow up. Ellen continually reminded me tonight that it really is ok to stay young and enjoy being such. Yes Peter Pan, I do believe in fairies!!

Hasson, alongside Annie McCarroll (Wendy) and Kathryn Rutherford (Tiger Lily) never faltered as they hit some outstanding notes tonight. At times this was more like musical theatre than pantomime. Such was the quality of talent and singing on that Derry stage.

Personally it was a delight to see Jessica McShane from Buncrana on stage tonight also. Having followed her career these past few years, this young talented lady shone brightly tonight in all her roles. 

Everyone, down to the tick-tocking crocodile did themselves proud from start to finish. Even Caulfield, or rather that dastardly Captain Hook, showed no evidence of that poor throat and there was no ‘croaking’ from him. As he said the other day, ‘the show must go on.’  And go on this show surely did tonight. Christmas is very much here and it’s made even more festive and more special with this very magical pantomime. 

Adult anecdotes, childish jokes, contemporary music and heartfelt themes are there throughout. Even my wee village of ‘Muff’ got a mention – go Conor!! This panto is just fun and it really does allow you to explore that ‘inner child’ we really do all possess. Some of us, like Peter Pan, continually explore it. 

We all know the work the Foyle Sea and Rescue folk do in the city. No words can describe just how amazing this organisation are. So it really is such a very worthy cause to donate to after the show each night. Do give what you can if possible this Christmas as you leave the auditorium. 
Proudly sponsored by the Richmond Centre, Peter Pan at the Millennium Forum is packed with fantasy, bucketfuls of fun and amazing flying stunts. With a powerful mix of celebrity, music, dance and plenty of audience participation, it really does entertain and delight children of all ages!!

But just now, can someone please take that ‘Baby shark’ song out of my head?
Peter Pan performs at the Millennium Forum from Fri 30th Nov to Sun 30th Dec.  Tickets are now available from the Box Office and are priced from £10.50.  Telephone 71 264455 or visit millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.  Relaxed Performance and Dementia Friendly Performance takes place on Sun 9th Dec @ 2.30pm. The Signed Performance was tonight and the two lads were excellent and really did add that extra dimension to the show earlier. 
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to the North West’s only professional panto and this year, Peter Pan, the Millennium Forum’s annual panto, really is the perfect place to create some priceless Christmas memories for your family this season.

If you believe in Magic, in fairies, and in staying young, this is definitely for you.

GMcC

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