Panto starts early on the pier

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Peter Pan - North Pier Theatre, Blackpool

It’s probably something to do with cooler summers and milder winters but pantomime is no longer restricted to Christmas.

This will put cheer or fear into an equal number of hearts but J M Barrie’s classic flight of fancy and adventure is thankfully the least “look out behind you” story from what has become the panto canon.

Granted, award winning writer Anne Dalton (she penned the hit Her Benny) has added the Neverbird to the story as a token dame (useful for filling in for scene changes and adding the occasional contemporary comment) but basically it’s still boys will always be boys rather than the usual panto fare of them being girls and vice versa.

As a pro-am production there’s certainly plenty of bodies to fill the stage and whilst it hardly takes an articulated truck to shift in the scenery, it’s all better dressed and propped than some previous summer versions of winter favourites.

Former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Charlotte Gallagher is a feisty and pretty Wendy with a good singing voice and welcome Liverpool accent (considering where the Darling family actually live!) and Ben Darcy in the title role will be more convincing when he slows down his dialogue and project his vocals better

Apart from a very humanised Nana (two legs good, four legs bad) and Smee’s Chris Jones having watched too many Benny Hill episodes, Dalton’s script is fast moving and accessible with original music which is just the right fusion of pop and sentimentality Peter Brindle’s Captain Hook plays things more for laughs than fear – which is perhaps a good idea for a summer show.

It all makes an interesting alternative as a family show and can be seen every Wednesday at 2 and 7.30pm until August 29.

Robin Duke