Peter Pan, Bristol Hippodrome

Peter Pan, Bristol Hippodrome

David Hasselhoff, the Hoff, has been in Knight Rider, Baywatch and now Peter Pan at the Bristol Hippodrome. Any further productions he does may not need to use the South West appearance as an enticement but this extravaganza made the most of the Hoff’s past, including the appearance of KITT outside the theatre for some pre-show celebrity action.

The Hoff certainly made an impact as Hook and entered the stage from the auditorium while singing. He sounded good. He looked tired. He still managed to get everyone excited, as if they needed an excuse. That wasn’t how the story started, however.

David Hasselhoff has top billing at the Bristol Hippodrome’s annual Christmas pantomime but it was Andy Ford who stole and carried the show. His camp one-liners and cheerful but cheeky smile were a consistent treat throughout the story that stayed pretty true to James Matthew Barrie’s classic tale. The ageless boy, Peter Pan, (Robert Rees) gets acquainted with Wendy (Janine Esther Cowell) while searching for his shadow and accompanied by his fairy Tinkerbell.

The soulful singing of the Three Divas (Donna Hines, Lakesha Cammock and Linda John-Pierre) was a groovy and fun addition. They sparkled the whole way through the show, whether in glittery silver numbers or dangling off stage as mermaids. Dangling in the air, or flying, was a popular effect and it was done beautifully in the scene of Peter Pan leading Wendy, Michael and John through the streets, or rather the skies, of London before landing in Neverland.

There’s a real poignancy to a story about orphaned boys ending up in a land where they get to play make believe all the time. Wendy steps in as mother but Peter Pan can’t handle the responsibility of being father and would rather end up alone than stop having fun. Parenting is a big responsibility, even in the land of make believe and this show is firmly sold under the patronage of one of the biggest stars of the last three decades. His cadaver like paleness was a little strange and indeed a little stiff, however, in contrast to the lively and energetic rest of the cast. He was at his best while singing, even his rendition of Jump in my Car from an earlier singing career was fun and impressive; very popular in Germany, apparently.

If you go just for the Hoff you will be disappointed. If you stay for the swashbuckling thrills of the Lost Boys, the Indians, the pirates, the dazzling dancing, the soul music and the tick-tocking crocodile, you will be in for a wonderful treat. After all, there aren’t many shows that end with fire and the actual smell of gunpowder, right?

Runs until 8th January, 2012.

Written for Public Reviews

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