Peter Pan wins applause from Falkirk Town Hall audiences

Stepping into Falkirk Town Hall for this production of Peter Pan was almost like stepping back in time to childhood.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 3:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 11:09 am
Picture: Michael Gillen

The captivating tale of Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up, is one that most children read from a very young age.

It’s full of goodies – Peter and the lost boys, baddies in the shape of Captain Hook and his pirate band, and that little minx Tinkerbell who wants to keep Peter all to herself.

Add in some lovely musical numbers, strong dance routines and you have a highly entertaining evening courtesy of Central Theatre Productions.

Following on from last year’s production of Hairspray this musical was more like their first-ever show, Oliver, which had parts across the company’s age range.

And that’s what you had to keep reminding yourself about this performance, the majority of the leading roles were taken by young teenagers.

In many cases their talents were way beyond their years.

There was something refreshing about the leading characters, who are in the main children, being portrayed by people of the same age.

Star billing is richly deserved for Hayley Doyle who made a wonderful Peter Pan.

She brought a freshness to the role, exactly right for the character, yet at only 14 had a mature stage presence of someone more than twice her age.

If Hayley’s acting was excellent, it was matched by her pitch-perfect singing voice.

This production is from the Broadway stage musical and although it doesn’t contain the well-known songs from the Disney film, it has some lovely music and lyrics, particularly Never Never Land sung by Peter.

Based on the book by JM Barrie, the musical opens in the nursery of the London home of the Darling family. Father (Joe Maitland) and mother (Julie Wallace) are just about to go out for the evening, leaving their three children, Wendy, John and Michael, in the capable ‘paws’ of the family’s nanny – a dog, Nana, played by Jordan Moir. He may not have a speaking role but was certainly a favourite with the audience.

As the children sleep Peter returns to search for his shadow, left behind on a previous visit, and wakens Wendy. Freya Eng plays the role with a perfect wide-eyed innocence and is another very strong vocal performer.

Together with brothers John (Grace Gillies) and Michael (Hazel Craig), she agrees to go with Peter to Neverland, but before they can head to “second star on the right and straight on till morning”, they must learn to fly.

The aerial scene in the nursery was one of the highlights as the four youngsters fly with ease above the stage.

In Neverland they meet the lost boys and Wendy agrees to be their ‘mother’.

But enter Captain Hook and his pirates who are Peter’s sworn enemies and determined to have them all walk the plank.

The pirates have some hilarious dance moves, including Hook’s Tarantella, which is hammed up perfectly.

However, the star dancers on the night are Tiger Lilly (Dedei Hainey) and her Indians, with some very slick footwork.

Captain Hook (Darren Jalland) and his sidekick Smee (Linsay Brown) have some hilarious interaction, again well choreographed.

While the story may appear to end happily with Wendy and her brothers returning home, along with the lost boys who her parents agree to look after, our hero remains in Never Land.

Peter wants to stay a boy for ever and with his trusty friend Tinkerbell, the delightful dancer Alix Mcgee, he says goodbye to Wendy.

But in a touching finale, Peter return to the nursery where he again finds Wendy, but now grown up with a daughter of her own.

The enthusiastic audience on opening night showed their appreciation for a slick show and a very talented cast, particularly the youngsters.

Peter Pan runs until Wednesday, January 22 with curtain up each night at 7pm.