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Peter Pan at Horsham

Catch the panto fun at The Capitol into the first week of January

If you’re wondering how to fill the last of the school hols, grab some tickets for the pacy, polished Peter Pan at The Capitol, Horsham.

Hywel Dowsell as Mrs Smee and James Fletcher as Mini Smee. Photo by Stephen Candy.

I took my nephews (9 and 12) who, having seen the Horsham panto last year, were keen to scan the programme for their favourites. Before the curtain had even gone up they recognised Hywel Dowsell (back as the dame Mrs Smee), James Fletcher (as Mini Smee) and dance captain Yamit Salazar, who so impressed my youngest nephew last year he asked me to give him a special mention in my review.

Photo by Stephen Candy.

Some pantos can be a bit sappy in parts and take a while to get going but we launched straight into the action with a scene setting mash-up of Who Will Buy? from Oliver and Sister Sledge’s We Are Family and fast-paced song and dance routines continued throughout. Most songs were relatively recent (the boys knew all but one) though my own fave was the more retro Elton John’s I’m Still Standing performed by Captain Hook (Nicholas Collier).

Photo by Stephen Candy.

A male Tink, (played by Freddie Hill who I last saw in a completely different part as a rising football star in The Red Lion) was a nice touch, in a cool silver get-up, with winged backpack, spiked hair and mirror glasses. Peter Pan himself (Anthony Sahota) meanwhile had plenty of bounce both on and off the wires.

There was also the most realistic-looking panto croc I’ve seen – an enormous chap.

Anthony Sahota at Peter and Rebecca Lafferty as Wendy. Photo by Stephen Candy.

West End-experienced Rebecca Lafferty as Wendy had a particularly good voice and, perhaps unsurprisingly given his Welsh heritage, Hywel Dowsell proved a far better singer than your average dame.

I thought young Dexter Lamley-Grinstead, who played Michael on the night we went, gave a really confident performance for his age.

Photo by Stephen Candy.

Of course we all loved Mrs Smee but our favourite character this year was a pirate called Trump, complete with ship’s cat hair, pouty face, overlong tie and lines about walls and fake news. He also turned up among the Indians as ‘Big-Ego-Little-Hands’.  The boys were particularly delighted because they had been doing Trump impressions in the car on the drive to the theatre!

Yamit Salazar. Photo by Stephen Candy.

Yamit Salazar wowed the boys again with his dancing (the youngest was a bit star struck when he spotted him after the show). I was also particularly impressed by Heart FM’s Nicola Hume dancing in a fishtail on a hoverboard in her turn as Ethel the Mermaid (the boys less so because they bragged it was ‘really easy’!)

Hume has appeared in The Capitol’s panto before and multi-tasks this year, also playing Big Chief Chillaxin Cow and Mrs Darling – who had one of my favourite lines of the show, an anachronistic reference to Alexa in the Edwardian nursery.

Nicola Hume as Big Chief Chillaxin Cow. Photo by Stephen Candy.

There’s perhaps less slapstick than some years but the enthusiastically-greeted ghost scene, comic Twelve Days of Christmas and puns-a-plenty are all present and correct and the flying sequences incorporate some neat projection.

You’re definitely in safe hands with Horsham’s panto… even if some of those hands are the tiny appendages of a pirate president!

Peter Pan is at The Capitol, Horsham until Sun 5 Jan (excluding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), with the best availability in the new year. There’s a relaxed performance on Thurs 2 Jan.

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