This year’s Christmas pantomime at the Alban Arena is sure to have you Hooked!
It’s time to take a trip to Neverland as Peter Pan has just flown into the St Albans venue to get you in the seasonal spirit.
Jake Wood (EastEnders’ Max Branning) is the big name this year, who has taken advantage of his soap character being in the Walford slammer to take on the role of the dastardly Captain Hook.
Katrina Bryan (CBeebies’ Nina and the Neurons) appears as Tinkerbell and comedian Bob Goldings’s name, this year, is Mrs Smee!
This is Jake’s first panto, but given he’s played a right rogue in EastEnders for nine years, it’s safe to say he’s an expert at playing the baddie role. And as he admits in the panto programme his secret talent is hypnotising chickens, it’s little wonder he had the audience under his spell as they booed with gusto.
Three nights in, when I saw the show, he’d perfected his pirate’s cackle. Perhaps he’d taken tips from fellow EastEnder Steve McFadden who starred as the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk last year at the Arena and was at Sunday’s show to check out his colleague’s evil credentials.
Mrs Smee promised us all new jokes this year and we weren’t disappointed - with the one-liners gaining groans and belly laughs in equal measure and Nana, the break-dancing dog, taking a deserved bow(wow). The predictable gags at the expense of nearby towns featured too, with Watford and Luton (twice) taking hits.
Another new addition was the use of visual effects on the big screen. As the characters flew to Neverland on their wires it really added to the believability of the journey.
While Katrina Bryan was fabulous as Tinkerbell and Bob Golding excelled for the fifth year running as Mrs Smee (an Arena panto without Bob just wouldn’t be the same), a special mention must go to rising star David Ribi who played the title role.
He was flying as he delivered his lines perfectly and sung with aplomb.
No Evolution Productions panto would be complete without the ‘ghost behind you’ routine, and the string-36-puns-together-in-quick-succession gag involving Bob Golding and, this year, Ian Kirkby (Eric the over-acting pirate). This time the theme was fish, which had the audience reeling about with laughter.
Peter Pan is a perfect two hours of fun for children - and adults who wish they’d never grown up.
Be a Darling and give it a go...
> The panto runs until Sunday, January 3. Call the Alban Arena Box Office 01727 844488 or go to www.alban-arena.co.uk