Review: Christmas Spectacular in Neverland, The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company, Snape Maltings, to December 21.
- Credit: Archant
Coming on leaps and bounds in terms of storytelling and staging these past 10 years, I like the way it retains that strong festive flavour while setting itself apart from the legions of other seasonal shows.
This year’s production felt too traditional to me, leaning towards pantomime at times in terms of the script - with lots of asides to the audience and pop culture references from Simon Cowell to the Great British Bake Off.
Billed as an original tale inspired by JM Barrie’s classic story of the boy who never grew up, all your favourite characters and moments are there. The Christmas element - which sees Neverland’s inhabitants learning about the true meaning of the season - felt a tad shoe-horned in.
The newer, pared back set was used well but given we’ve had super-sized swans and giant ghouls in the past perhaps it was a little too simple. The crocodile stalking Captain Hook, for instance, was a squandered chance to do something sensational.
That said, I was watching the dress rehearsal. Being an audience of one doesn’t give you a true impression of the finished show. The cast need a packed house - which I’m sure they will get - to really lift them and get the set-pieces flowing.
At the heart of Neverland are the performances, which were of the quality we’ve come to expect of the Co-op Juniors. The whole cast pulled the show together; the acting, singing and seemingly increased number of dance routines were all near faultless.
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Anna Watson has a really strong voice; adding great depth to Wendy. Richard Rumbellow is a suitably scheming Hook and Ella Page a particulary vocal and sassy Tinker Bell.
The choreography was on point and there were some great arrangements of songs including Eye of the Tiger and Defying Gravity; although the latter seemed a touch fast.
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Families and youngsters will lap up the pirate, Indian, fairy and Lost Boys action and adventure. All in all it was a great show, but missed the spectacular mark.