Review: Peter Pan at The Central Theatre – starring Vanilla Ice

Ice, Ice, Baby.

Yes, I am referring to Vanilla Ice’s hit song. Because this year, the rapper is starring in pantomime at The Central Theatre in Chatham, playing Captain Hook in a production of Peter Pan.

And, of course, he gets to perform Ice, Ice, Baby

Fortunately, the eager audience doesn’t have to wait until the very end, although you do have to suffer through an act and a half of hints before finally getting to see Vanilla perform every word of the song.

Unfortunately, it’s probably the best bit of the production.

Sure, there’s plenty of Vanilla on stage, and it’s clear The Central Theatre is getting its money’s worth out of him, as there are some pointless and overly long scenes featuring the rapper. It might have been better to have him on stage less, but performing Ice, Ice, Baby a second time, instead of just giving the audience what they wanted once.

The classic story of Peter Pan is brought to life in adequate fashion, complete with flying and a revolving set with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys’ hideout on one side and Hook’s ship on the other. However, the magic is lost with the sight of the ropes attached to Peter Pan’s back, and the sight of the stagehands pushing the set round every time the scene changes.

The show is full of musical numbers, ranging from Queen (a lot of Queen), to Nirvana (as my friend said: “Kurt Cobain would be turning in his grave”) to Lady Gaga. Again, they’re done adequately, but it’s nothing special. The only thing which peps the musical numbers up are the addition of some jugglers, who at one point just juggle balls, and at another use lit torches (leaving the theatre filled with the smell of petrol).

The youngsters watching the pantomime clearly enjoyed themselves, getting involved in shouting out the catchphrase (Smee: Hello! Audience: Is that you? Smee: No, it’s me), booing Hook and clapping and shouting they believed in fairies.

For me though, Peter Pan has lost its allure, at least with this production. Wendy never got beyond her role as a “mother” to the Lost Boys, and the Native American Indians embodied every cliche in the book. As a result I found myself constantly looking below the surface of the play, finding a dated story full of unappetising steroetypes.

Peter Pan is put on by Evolution Productions, which has been doing The Central Theatre’s pantos for a while now. The children in the audience clearly loved the show, but Evolution has definitely done better in the past (last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk was ten times better).

Go if you’ve young children, go if you’re a huge Vanilla Ice fan, but don’t go expecting to see the magic of panto brought alive.

Peter Pan is on until December 31. Click here for more information.

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