Tick, tock, there is still time for Neverland in Sheringham’s Peter Pan
- Credit: RICHARD BATSON
With polished performances from a professional cast and piratical puns a-plenty, Sheringham Little Theatre's pantomime has had audiences of adults and children hooked from the opening number.
Featuring puppets, special effects, stunning costumes and some clever choreography, the production of Peter Pan, which rockets along like a runaway train on the North Norfolk Railway, includes songs ranging from Barry Manilow and Madness, to Little Mix and Katy Perry.
The stories that Wendy Darling tells her brothers John and Michael soon sends them flying from London (via Norfolk) to Neverland thanks to the boy who refuses to grow up form the basis of the panto from the professional team who last year brought us Cinderella.
Stunning costumes, huge production numbers and, of course, a high-flying boy who wouldn't grow up; the Darling children travelling to Neverland is just the start of their awfully big adventure and meet the most famous fairy of them all, Tinker Bell, a feisty girl full of attitude.
There will be plenty of Pirates, including the bumbling Miss Smee and Starkey and that most dastardly of villains Captain Hook.
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James Lavender and Rik Warren as take on the Dame roles of Smee and first mate Starkey proving to be a side-splittingly funny double act, with Cromer-based actor Neil Paris drawing boos and laughs in equal measure for his vain and villainous Hook.
Once again a lot of hard work has already gone into preparing the production's script, music, and local youngsters who join the professional cast. Local youngsters are playing the Lost Boys, pirates and warrior princess Tiger Lily.
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Creator and director Nick Earnshaw, who has directed the Sheringham panto twice before, had a few weeks to bring the recipe to the boil ready to serve up to audiences.
He said: 'In that time we had lines, songs and dances to learn, along with linking it all to puppetry and projection, costumes, lighting and sets. It is like juggling 60 balls all at the same time.
'We wanted to challenge ourselves and have taken the panto to another level with special effects to make it more cinematic – using things we have not tried before.
'Then we try it all out with preview shows before the main season opens to see how it all works on the other cast member – the audience. If things get a good reaction we do more of them,' he added.
Peter is played by George Caporn, 23, who is tackling his first professional panto since graduating from school. He said: 'We toured a panto at college and I love getting the crowd involved.'
The action focuses on the amazing stories told by Wendy Darling (Gemma Wilson) to her younger brothers despite the efforts of her strict father, nanny and dog Barkey (Rik Warren).
The tales from Neverland, with some mentions of north Norfolk, also feature feisty fairy Tinker Bell (Nicola Barney).
Proving to be stars of the are a pair of specially-made crocodile puppets – Tick and Tock – devised especially for the show also join the cast along with a mini Peter and Wendy.
The pirate baddie from Peter Pan famously lives in fear of a croc that swallowed a crewman's alarm clock, and also snacked on his hand when it was cut off in a swordfight with the boy who never goes up.
Nick decided to have two of them to add a new dimension to the classic adventure tale. He turned to top puppet maker David Leech, having worked with him on a student drama production of The Lonely Goatherd song from the Sound of Music at a festival.
'I had the idea of splitting the character in two and making it twin brother crocodiles. That way we could have sibling rivalry within the story to add a fresh twist. They are a straight man and a fool. One is posh with a monocle, the other crazy with red hair - partly based on my sons.
'David was great. We had a meeting, and I described these two crocs including their personalities and appearance. He immediate came back with lots of ideas and examples.'
Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: 'Peter Pan is already a magical story but the crocs, and other puppetry involved, really puts the icing on our annual Christmas cake.'
• Peter Pan, Sheringham Little Theatre, until January 1, various dates/times, £18, £13 children, £60 family, 01263 822347, www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com