The trip to Neverland promises as much fun for grown-ups as the kids in Milton Keynes Theatre’s Christmas pantomime, Peter Pan.
The strings might be visible, but watching Peter Pan (played by George Ure) and Tinkerbell (Francesca Mills) glide mid-air across the stage poses a wonder that never disappears with age.
But flying is one thing we might expect. Seeing Captain Cook’s pirates transformed into a gang of floor-spinning, somersaulting street dancers is quite another!
That’s right, dance troupe Flawless – who took part in the 2009 series of Britain’s Got Talent – are the dastardly pirate crew who weave each scene together with their array of crowd-wooing acrobatic stunts.
Luckily, the crew speak as well as they dance, bringing much of the humour to the show. As does their other shipmate – the not so dastardly as disastrous sidekick Smee, played by Bradley Walsh.
The cheers, laughs and giggles all go to that lovable buffoon, the incompetent babysitter turned reluctant shipmate, Smee, who hopelessly infuriates Captain Cook almost as much as Peter Pan.
Walsh – who has played Smee in pantomime before – is adept with the one-liners, and his own farcical adventures, including a rehash of the Twelve Days of Christmas (all including horrible presents from Captain Hook) and a romantic midnight soiree with “Scurvy Annie”, all keep the audience entertained as much as the main action.
Perhaps the highlight of the show is watching Walsh – under orders from Captain Hook and the crew – trying, and failing miserably, to walk, talk and fight like a pirate.
That, and Flawless’s dance midway through the show at intermission, which sees the group, in black costumes lined with coloured lightbulbs, amaze the audience in an electric dance routine.
With such a crew beneath him, what can you expect from their leader, that iconic villain CaptainHook?
Donning the famous black periwig, crimson cape and silver hook is Olivier Award-winning musical star David Bedella, famous for his turns in Jerry Springer: The Musical and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Strutting stealthily across the stage, schmoozing, “Don’t you just love me?” after each wicked turn, he’s a natural draw for the boos.
And it turns out he’s also a natural swashbuckler with the sword, as a few fencing rounds with Peter Pan will testify.
Neverland boasts a fairly interesting cultural mix. We’ve got the North American Indian princess Tigerlily complete with a Lancashire accent. But with its colour, bright lights, singing and mesmerising dancing, Peter Pan has a friendly interaction with the audience that makes a sure thing to impress.
One last thing – while at sea, you might expect things to get a bit wet. Very wet!
> Peter Pan plays at the Milton Keynes Theatre until January 11. Call the box office on 0844 871 7652 for tickets.