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Friday, December 04, 2015

Flying High - Peter Pan in Wonderland - Panto Review

Peter Pan in Wonderland - Ross Petty Productions at The Elgin Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars)
Written by Chris Earle, Directed by Tracey Flye
Runs until Jan. 3rd 2016

               

Ross Petty is back for his 20th annual Christmas Panto-monium (as it's dubbed this year) and he goes out with a bang in what is supposed to be his last outing as he retires after playing the evil boo worthy Captain Hook. These silly and charming pantos, part of the British Christmas tradition nicely imported to Toronto, but sometimes they are a little too silly or weird for me. Alas, this year, Chris Earle, Tracey Flye and choreographer Marc Kimmelman has put together a spot-on cast to deliver the most joyous and enjoyable panto for Petty's final year.

Peter Pan in Wonderland is also the most coherent pantomime I've seen, with a fun twist to the Peter Pan legend that brings him to Alice's Wonderland after he tries to save Wendy who has been tricked into Wonderland by the nefarious Captain Hook, who managed to escape the Tic Tock Croc and is out for Storybook land domination. There's Smee helping Hook out, a ragtag bunch of pirates (who sing beautifully), and Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, and Alice (who all dance amazingly) all as Hook tries to seduce the Red Queen so that he can steal a magical tickle trunk (a nod to Mr. Dressup).

It's all zany and loopy and exactly a loose enough plot to hang current pop hits musical numbers performed by a great cast including Steffi DiDomenicatonio as Alice (and finally a hilarious acknowledgement to her uncanny appearance as a young Liza with a Z), a perfectly boyish charming Anthony MacPherson as Peter Pan, the amazing dance team of The Next Step's Taveeta Szymanowicz, Lamar Johnson, and Jordan Clark (also SYTYCDCanada S4 winner), and comedienne Jessica Holmes bringing out her awesome Celine Dion singing chops.

Then there's Dan Chameroy, the handsome musical theatre star from Stratford and Toronto who dons a sparkly tutu getup, giant wig and every make-up product on one face to become Tinkerbum, Tinkerbell's temporary replacement. If Chameroy in fairy drag singing "Bad Blood" isn't what Christmas pantomimes are all about, then I don't know what is.



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