REDDITCH’S Palace Theatre played host to the World premiere of a brand new musical – The Return of Neverland – and it did not disappoint.
Following on from such a well-known and much-loved story – Peter Pan – was always going to be a difficult thing to do, but the new show, by Joshua Davies and Josephine Sherlock, certainly rose to the challenge.
Impressively, as well as penning the piece, the pair also directed it and acted in it as part of a very talented nine-strong cast.
Whenever you see a new piece of theatre you never know quite what to expect and The Return of Neverland got off to a strong start with the opening numbers – including the catchy ‘There’s a Place’ and ‘No More Stories’.
Other musical highlights, included ‘Hook’s Lament’ and the extremely powerful and booming ‘Neverland’. That, involving Tinkerbell, Jane, Peter and Anaideia, contained some breath-taking harmonies and (excuse the pun) left the audience with the perfect ‘hook’ as they headed into the half-time interval.
Acting-wise, every single member of the cast played their part, especially Daniel Murphy as Hook and the suitably evil Hannah Selby-Hughes as Anaideia.
But the best performances on the night were by Josephine Sherlock as the lovable Tinkerbell and Lily-Hannah Binks as the mischievous Tootles.
The audience took to Sherlock’s portrayal of Tink as soon as she set foot on the stage, and empathised with the character and the roller-coaster ride the little green fairy went on.
Binks, meanwhile, provided much-needed smatterings of comedy and was especially popular with the younger members of the audience in what – on the whole – is quite a dark and sinister production.
The chemistry created by Binks’ interaction with her fellow ‘Lost Boys’ Slightly (Charlotte McGrory) and Nibs (Eleanor Mottershead) was second to none and seamless throughout. They carried off the roles of three excitable boys who had grown up and spent a lot of time together perfectly.
Another aspect which contributed to the success of this production was the simplicity of the set. It was effective in appearance, but also enabled the scene changes to be carried out swiftly, maintaining the flow of the show and avoiding long uncomfortable gaps between scenes.
Overall this was a well-thought out, well-written and well-performed production.
You can expect The Return of Neverland – premiered in Redditch – to make another return in the future – more than likely on an even bigger stage.
The show is suitable for those aged seven and over.
The final performances of Return to Neverland take place at the Palace Theatre today (Saturday) at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets, inclusive of a 75p booking fee, are £15.75, £13.75 (OAP), £11.75 (child), £48.00 (family).
For more, or to book tickets, visit www.redditchpalacetheatre.co.uk or call 01527 65203.