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Peter Pan @ The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

It’s back! The Regent panto has returned to deliver yet another feast of festive entertainment.

This year it’s Peter Pan, the classic tale of the boy who never grew up and his never ending battles in Neverland with Captain Hook. This is the panto, though, so don’t expect a straight forward retelling, with the story providing a backdrop for lots of onstage capers, singing and dancing instead.

Jonathan Wilkes returns again, this time as Smee, Hook’s dopey companion. Not so dopey here though, as Wilkes pulls out all the stops to keep the audience entertained from start to finish. Cracking jokes, singing and making the audience part of the show, his enthusiasm is endless.

And that enthusiasm is matched by Amanda Coutts as Tinkerbell, and Kai Owen, who makes a welcome return to The Regent as Captain Hook. Both are excellent. Coutts brings the warmth that a panto needs, wrapped up in a light-hearted, roller skating package, her warm persona and strong singing voice winning the hearts of the audience.

As Captain Hook, Owen is hands down a panto tour de force, being involved in every side-splitting moment, some admittedly inadvertent, but even funnier for it. A real presence on stage, Owen embraces the character, has a fantastic voice and, really importantly in this show, is a great sport.

Rory Sutherland as Peter Pan is the charming hero everybody wants to see, while Hannah Everest gave a wonderful performance as Wendy.

As always, the choreography is excellent and the quality of the dancing sets the show apart, with bright costumes and vivid scenery creating a magical visual spectacle.

No spoilers, but people who visit The Regent year on year to watch the show (and there are a lot) will not be disappointed. All the favourites are there, but this year’s show set the bar high for true comedy. There were countless times that the action on the stage left the audience in hysterics, with genuinely funny sketches that you couldn’t help but laugh at – loose-fitting wigs aside! The innuendo seemed to be a bit lighter this year and the show was better for, although there were still plenty of risqué jokes for the adults to snigger at.

The team behind The Regent panto know their audience well, with choices of music playing into kids’ favourites (but that most adults will enjoy too) and with a good smattering of local jokes.

We have been to a fair few pantos at The Regent, but this is certainly up there as one of the best; heart-warming and hilarious entertainment. The quality of the production shows just how lucky we are to have The Regent in Stoke-on-Trent, with the consistently high standard of shows it delivers.

If you’re looking for a good dose of Christmas cheer, look no further: it’s impossible not to enjoy this panto. Peter Pan is at The Regent, Hanley, from now until December 31st, book online.

CNM

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