Review of Peter Pan At the Cliffs Pavilion by Nina Jervis

December 13, 2023

Thanks to Nina Jervis from for this review.

Disclaimer: the review you’re about to read isn’t my own. Frustratingly, I tested positive for Covid on the glittering Peter Pan Gala Night (since we’re in panto-mode… “boo”). Luckily, I’d had the foresight to invite some friends to come with me, so they gamely took notes in my absence.

My friends – Deborah, Vickie, and Matt – all agreed that the festive atmosphere was wonderfully on point from the moment they walked into the Cliffs’ foyer, which was teeming with excited children and friendly staff in Christmassy costumes. A lot of thought had also gone into the “incredible” on-stage scenery, which resembled a dense forest at the start and morphed seamlessly into “colourful and mesmerising” backgrounds throughout.

As you’d expect, the feelgood energy was high and the cast entrances larger than life. A jubilant Peter Pan (Morgan Jackson, in a “standout performance”) entered in a shower of fireworks, while Tinkerbell (Ciara Ford) had to be encouraged onto the stage by everyone shouting “I believe in Tinkerbell”… “which we almost did by the end!”

Of course, the biggest and showiest entrances were reserved for the stars – Joe Pasquale as Smee and Rob Rinder as the villainous Captain Hook… the latter drawing an ear-shattering chorus of “boos” before he’d even appeared, and the former full of slapstick and ‘toilet’ humour that endeared the crowd instantly.

“Joe Pasquale was the star of the show; right from the start everyone was giggling at his antics!” He told plenty of ‘adult’ jokes to keep the grown-ups entertained, but don’t worry if you’re bringing the kids as “they’ll fly straight over their heads”.

There were plenty of fun references to Essex and Southend too, which drew more than a few giggles. Oh, and if you hadn’t known Rob Rinder had been a TV judge, you definitely would have by the end of the show! “He was great, very dramatic as you might imagine… striking, fun and bold with a tinge of nastiness.”

David Robbins made a spectacularly campy Mrs. Smee, with her cheeky rendition of ‘All the Single Ladies’ a particular highlight (not to mention her “fabulous costumes… she brought a lot of joy to the stage”). The two boys playing John and Michael Darling were pronounced as “adorable… really confident little actors.” Meanwhile, the crocodile was incredibly well-made and lifelike – scarily so! – and there was plenty of joyous singing and well-choreographed dancing from a supremely talented ensemble cast.

The songs themselves were a good mix of traditional and current chart hits, which were deemed “good for keeping the children’s attention, because they knew a lot of the songs and were singing along with gusto”.

The only ‘negative’ my friends noted was that they felt the storyline was chaotic and lacking, in a way that wasn’t recognisable as the classic tale of Peter Pan. “There wasn’t really a time when Joe Pasquale wasn’t on stage, so if you’re a fan of his you’ll absolutely love it… there was almost a kind of ‘An Audience With…’ feel to the show. As such, the supporting cast were a little under-used and we’d have liked to see more of them.

However, we had a wonderful night. Everything looked magnificent, the songs and music were fantastic, and there was a flamboyantly magical feel to the show that was very uplifting… just as a panto should be!”


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