Chronicling a Love Affair with Canadian Theatre

peter pan the panto

Peter Pan: The Panto At Drayton

Peter Pan: The Panto, at the comfortable St. Jacobs Country Playhouse in Waterloo is Drayton Entertainment’s second foray into “panto” for the 2023 season. If you are unfamiliar with the term, let me refer you to an explanation of the genre in my review of Peter’s Final Flight, based on the same source material.

And speaking of that Ross Petty extravaganza, it’s beginning to look like Drayton is picking up where Petty left off and will be keeping the panto tradition alive for future generations of Canadian kids. Let’s hope so.

Unfortunately, Peter Pan: The Panto is not up to the standard set by Wizard of Oz: The Panto earlier this season. The script by Caroline Smith was somewhat pro forma and the jokes missed more than they hit, although I liked the idea of having the pantomime dame become something of a love interest for Captain Hook (Andrew Scanlon).

Similarly, David Connolly’s choreography lacked the pizzazz it had in Wizard. In his defense, he had to take into account the limited dance chops of the large “children’s chorus” that made up a big chunk of the cast.

Nonetheless, there were some bright spots. Justin Bott seems to be settling into the role of pantomime dame (he was Auntie Em in Wizard). In this outing the character is dubbed Nelly Copperbottom, who sports an inexplicable Scottish brogue that seemed a bit beside the point. He was ably abetted by the amusing costumes of Rachel Berchtold.

As Wendy, Zoë Brown got a chance to show off her ballet skills. Emma Rudy was a suitably sexy Tinkerbelle and Lia Luz was a bubbly Peter Pan. I was also taken with the diminutive Stephanie Pitsiladis as Smee, perhaps the most successful gender-swapped performance of the season.

I should note that, while I was less than impressed with Peter Pan:The Panto, the packed house with which I saw the show (I snagged one of the few remaining seats up in the balcony) thoroughly enjoyed themselves. And the show has been extended, “by popular demand” as they say, so what do I know? Those balcony seats, by the way, provide an excellent vantage point for a musical – and they’re cheaper!

Peter Pan: The Panto continues at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse through January 14, 2024. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Drayton Entertainment website.

(Image: Drayton Entertainment)

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