Gallery: Peter Pan saves Ipswich from villainous Captain Hook as panto stars arrive in town

Captain Hook with Ipswich mayor Hamil Clarke. Picture: Gregg Brown

Captain Hook with Ipswich mayor Hamil Clarke. Picture: Gregg Brown - Credit: Archant

Ipswich had a close call when the villainous Captain Hook attacked the town.

After taking Wendy and Tiger Lily hostage, the pesky pirate and right-hand man Smee hijacked the 19th Century Thames sailing barge the SB Victor - built in 1895 at the Dock End Yard in Ipswich, now restored and based in Mistley - and set sail for the Waterfront, all cannons blazing.

Luckily Peter Pan was on hand to save the day. Hopefully Hook’s next visit to the town, when Enchanted Entertainment’s pantomime Peter Pan comes to the Regent, will go more smoothly.

“It really is the most magical pantomime, it’s got all the elements you really need - flying, special effects, the best baddie in the business Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, pirates, indians; it’s got everything. It’s a massive show, a great Christmas festival that the audience can get involved with and really enjoy,” says writer and director Guy Pascall.

“The villain’s always fun, especially in panto. Unfortunately I’ve never been offered the nice, goody goodies,” laughs Chris Ellison, familiar to fans of The Bill as DI Frank Burnside.

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He wasn’t offered the role of Wendy then?

“No,” laughs Chris, who recently played Magwitch in a UK tour and West End production of Great Expectations and is soon to start shooting a three-part series for the BBC based on Daphne du Maurier’s Jamica Inn. “I’ve never been offered Wendy. I don’t get offered anything that’s in the slightest bit decent at all; even when I was young I never got the romantic leads. I was always the villain.”

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Hook’s a great part, he adds.

“I’ve played him a few times now; you can have a bit of fun with it.

“Peter Pan is a lovely story, it’s one of the best stories of all of the children’s pantomimes. Because it was a play orginally with a proper story to it, I think children are enchanted by that and there are the indians, the island, the flying...”

Somebody else excited about the flying is Jenny Jones, who plays Wendy.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve flown before, it was one of my first jobs. It was about 10 years ago and really exciting, I’m so looking forward to it now and to be back in Ipswich.”

The actress, dancer, choreographer and children’s TV show Hi-5 presenter grew up in the town, attending Ipswich High School for Girls.

“Where I’m living now is only about an hour away so I’m going to have lots of support which will be so much fun; cheering and booing the bad characters, singing along.

“To do Peter Pan and be able to fly is amazing. I love all the songs, the dancing, the interaction, especially with the baddie; I think Chris is going to be a great Hook. Hook’s quite tame to some of the characters (he’s played before).”

Also looking forward to crossing swords with Ellison is Lloyd Warbey, who pays Pan.

The actor, known for presenting Art Attack on the Disney Channel, can’t wait to get on stage.

“It’s about having fun, being a kid - who doesn’t want to be a kid? You can have so much fun and get away with a lot more. There’s so much (in the show), we’re going to have to cram it all in in the two hours.”

He’s perhaps not so excited about the flying.

“I’ve never flown for a whole show before, we’ll see how it goes. There’ll be some surprises in store as well with the flying so I’m looking forward to the audience reaction to that and the magic we create with Tinker Bell... there are so many elements.”

Andy Fleming, playing Hook’s handyman Smee, agrees.

“It’s got everything; crocodiles, Captain Hook who’s like Brian Blessed crossed with Russell Brand... it’s a very colourful, visual show. My Smee... there’s quite a lot of goodness (in him), but mainly thickness. He’s very impressionable and gets led astray by Captain Hook. He gets led in the other direction by Wendy and Peter. I recommend everybody book up immediately because apparently tickets are flying out at the moment - don’t book it, Hook it.”

Enchanted Entertainment’s Peter Pan runs at the Ipswich Regent from December 20-28.

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