I was moaning recently to friends that I wasn’t getting that magical Christmas feeling. Turns out, I just needed a trip to the Panto!

When I reviewed last year’s Panto (Sleeping Beauty) at the Key Theatre, I described it as being just as good (if not better) than some shows I’ve seen at the West End. I was not exaggerating. So… expectations were extremely high this time around and I feared they wouldn’t be met. I needn’t have worried. Simon Egerton has blown me away once again with his version of Peter Pan.

It tells the tale of a boy who never grew up, as he and his heroic troupe of ‘lost children’ face off against the villainous pirates led by Captain Hook aboard the Jolly Roger. It’s a story we all know and love but there were of course a few surprises as this (as always) features a new and original script for the Key Theatre.

Egerton returns again this year as the director, writer, composer and lyricist and Rob Hazle also returns as the stage musical director.

A couple of the twists I particularly liked was having Wendy play a strong, independent girl – who’ll make anyone regret suggesting that she should be cooking or cleaning. In this #MeToo era, it felt relevant.

I also enjoyed the character Dolores Smee (played by Francesca Fenech), who was tricked into the pirate life when all she ever wanted to be was a musical performer.

Returning faces include Rebecca Levy as principal boy, Peter Pan, after her success as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. Her voice is incredible and I was in awe of her vocal range.

Last year’s ‘Fairy Cherry Blossom’ Katie Pritchard dons a pair of wings once more in the role of Tinker Bell, who does an amazing job warming up the audience throughout.

Josh Haberfield, who tickled funnybones as Jingles the Jester returns in the comic role of Little Johnnie and delivers the gags brilliantly.

Lastly, having played villains everyone loves to hate, Robin Johnson now plays Captain Hook’s sidekick Barnacle Bill.

Newcomers include the imposing Richard Costello as Captain Hook and the dame this year comes in the form of Nanny Goggins played by Anthony Hoggard – a panto veteran.

This is, of course, not to forget a full complement of ‘lost children’ all played by a chorus of talented young actors auditioned from the local area.

One of the things I love the most about Panto at the Key Theatre is the intimate surroundings always mean you feel part of the action and have a great view. And being such an intimate venue, we are very lucky to have such high quality productions feature within it – this particular show being one of them.

I was blown away once again by just how professional the Key Panto is. Not one person on that stage felt out of place. Everyone can act, dance and sing – with many of the actors also playing their own instruments. They’re all-round entertainers who will leave you wanting more.

Peter Pan runs until Sunday January 6 but shows are selling out fast so don’t hang about!

Book now on 01733 207239 or visit

Rating: 4.5/5

Mikey Clarke