Talented professional actor Corinne Coward proves a hoot as a female Captain Hook in Buxton Drama League’s innovative latest panto, a hit at the Burbage Institute running until Saturday, February 9.
Billing herself as “practically perfect in every way”, she flounces onto the stage in black, pink and purple looking like an exciting cross between Johnny Depp and Madonna thanks to Sally Shaw’s memorably stylish costume design.
For all her pretty gorgeousness (her words), Hook remains a formidable villain with a dastardly plan to “liquidate” the Neverlandettes. A poisoned cake or two should also see off that pesky crocodile (Terry Naylor) and the far-too-resilient Peter Pan.
Principal boy Minni Hibbert makes a delightfully elfine Peter Pan, her distinctive singing voice proving a real treat in numbers such as Me and My Shadow. In fact the whole cast is in good voice with the chorus numbers properly energetic and everyone enjoying witty song choices such as This is Me translated as This is Smee.
There is a family-feeling about the Burbage panto cast and it is fun to see how young actors are growing up and taking on bigger roles each year. Suki Webb and Elyse Marling are very assured as posher-than-thou ship rats, Plague and Bubonic. Matthew Bowers and Ellie Craufurd-Stuart also get a lot of laughs as the tremendously well-spoken Michael and Wendy Darling and Phoebe Craufurd-Stuart has a good pout on her as punk fairy Tonkerbell.
More mature panto regulars Peter Stubbington and Sally Shaw play off each other beautifully as Smee and Sharkey, particularly in the chaotic, positively dangerous cake-making scene, while Tim Warburton makes a drily funny Dame Dotty Darling.
A few more Buxton jokes would be nice and I prefer it when the League add their own twist to the traditional bench scene, but the Richard Coleman script is reliably entertaining and the female Hook really works.
A lovely treat on a cold winter night, the whole production feels pacey and enjoyable with excellent costumes, sets and live music plus tight choreography from Sophie Wheeldon and intelligent direction by Jayne Marling. Keep ‘em coming me hearties!