Peter Pan – It’s Hoff the Hook! – It’s panto season once again…oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is! (had to be done…be warned, more puns to follow!).
This year Manchester’s Opera House have bagged themselves a Hollywood megastar to sprinkle a bit of Christmas magic into their festive treat – Peter Pan. He has worn iconic red shorts, driven a car that talked and is a huge pop star in Germany…yes it is one helluva ‘hoffering’ for theatre goers… Mr David Hasslehoff!
Donning a long curly wig and impressive thigh high boots Hasslehoff takes the role of Captain Hook in his stride, well to be fair it is his 3rd outing as the panto baddie having previously played the role in Wimbledon and Bristol. The ‘Hoff’ makes his entrance coming up from the orchestra pit to the strains of the Baywatch theme tune merging into ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ and has crowd in the palm of his hands. In the main Hoff is panto gold, camping it up to the max – so much so even last years star Louie Spence would have been proud.
There are a few moments though where you feel the younger audience may be a little bit ‘lost’ at the references to Knight Rider (seen as the hit TV show ended back in 1986 – way before they or even some of their mums were born).
Tam Ryan is a revelation as Hook’s sidekick Smee – his cheeky chappie style has both the parents and kids in the palm of his hands. There’s no coincidence why the Opera House have had Ryan play the ‘comic’ role in their last 3 panto offerings-he lights up every scene he’s in. Watch out for Ryan’s hilarious and energetic version of ’12 days of Christmas’ along with some of the best lines in the show (penned by panto vetran Eric Potts)-“I first met Hook in a second hand shop”!
A weaker link is actress Amy Bird who takes the lead as the ‘boy who never grew up’ Peter Pan. Despite some impressive flying Bird didn’t seem to ‘take off’ with the audience lacking the spark required for the role.
I know this is panto and ‘anything goes’ but I was a little confused at the 3 Divas – a trio of singing ladies used at points in the show to belt out a string of motown classics loosely connected to the onstage action. I much preferred the modern and up beat song choices made in the finale and wished they had been more abundant throughout.
That said no Christmas is complete without a visit to the theatre for panto and, not wanting to give too much away, if you loved the surprise hit of 2012 ‘Gangnam Style’-you ain’t seen nothing till you have seen it done Peter Pan style!!!
Panto fact: The Opera House has renamed it’s ticket collection area the Box Hoffice in a nod to their panto star David Hasslehoff. It will stay that way till he leaves mid January. That’s certainly ‘Hoff the Scale’!
Saturday 8th December 2012 – Sunday 13th January 2013
Opera House, Manchester