We begin in the home of the Darling Family. Mr Darling (Sam Sunnucks) is fiddling with his bow tie and telling the family, if he can’t get it tied he will not be going out! A good choice of casting, as Sam’s clear voice and control over the children, portrayed the father well. Mrs Darling (Lucy Peckham) looked very elegant in her dusky pink ball gown and gave a very touching performance whilst sat waiting for her children to return from Neverland.
The darling children were perfectly cast, Wendy (Carys Broome) showed a strong singing voice and I can see that with a few more years under her belt, she will be centre stage at many performances. Her moments alone with Peter were well performed, and very believable. I wish John Darling (Mathilda Watson) had more lines in the show. Only a small part yet what we did hear was well performed and a great singing voice when given solo lines. Mathilda took great care of the youngest Darling (Freddie Nixon) who was not originally playing the part and had very little rehearsal time. I may be biased in little Freddy as I’m his Aunty, but I feel he portrayed the part perfectly and his use of his Teddy Bear throughout was just as it should be! Even Teddy took a curtain call! Before we leave the Darling household, I must give special mention to Nanna the dog (Carolina Ribeiro). I loved her portrayal, her barks and whimpers. So good that at first I thought they were a recording. They way the other children reacted to her was a credit to her performance. She not only played Nanna, but appeared later as a pirate in Hook’s gang.
Onto Neverland….. the pirates were one of the highlights for me. The dance sequence to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme was excellent! Hook (Ann Kulla) who stood centre stage throughout the piece, commanded the stage as the Pirates danced round her. Hook reminded me of my younger self. Her use of voice, and emphasis was wonderful. I loved her solo “Goodbye Peter Pan” and can only imagine what a few more years of Theatre Train will produce. I think she is one to watch for the future! There were some lovely comedy moments from the pirates too, especially when Smee (Dylan Shaer) and the pirates were in “boats” to capture Tiger Lilly. Perfectly cast and played very sweetly by Emily Budd.
The second half opened with the Theatre Train minis as the Indian group performing “Pow Wow” and even though the youngest members, as a company they sang well together and told part of the story essential to the plot. I think everyone has their own image of Pan, the boy who never grew up and Logan Haywood certainly looked the part. By Act Two he was more relaxed in the role and I’m so glad that the show ended with the iconic image of Pan, hands on hips, head to the side and impish look on his face as he returned to Neverland! At that moment I truly believed he was Peter!
The lost boys were great. They worked as one…. taking on the look of the Island and although some of the dialogue was lost I have to give special mention to Millie Seal as “Nibbs”. She spoke every line clear and strong, her dancing was a joy to watch and she gave it her all. I was very surprised at the songs, very wordy and not easy to learn yet all the cast sang with confidence and supported each other. By the second half the children in the audience were a little restless, and I can honestly say that this was the only time I was aware I was in the presence of children.
I’ve saved the best till last… Tinkerbell, played by Olivia Hughes. I’ve only just realised that she actually had no lines in the show! She portrayed everything with sign language, gestures and a stamp of her foot! A joy to watch and very aware of her surroundings. Her very quick thinking meant that Hook got his hook back for the finale after it had flown off in the sword fight. Something that would usually been funny, but her quick thinking and stage craft made it insignificant and seamless! Well done Olivia! No show goes without hitch or pause, nonetheless what Theatre Train have managed to produce through Covid restrictions, illness and time restraints has to be applauded! I think JM Barrie would be very very proud!
Performance reviewed: Sunday 12th December, 2.30pm, Shanklin Theatre.
Reviewed by Hanna Emily Nixon
Photos: TheatreTrainIOW Facebook page