Presented at Crete Street Theatre by a talented ensemble from Beenleigh Theatre Group, Peter Pan is something truly spectacular. From the very first moment, the audience is enraptured. With a funny, talented cast, stunning fight choreography and marvellous costumes, Peter Pan is the perfect family outing to the theatre.
A timeless classic about the boy who would never grow up, Peter Pan is a beloved character that has brought joy to generations of children. Director, Bradley Chapman recalls fondly how he, like many other millennials, developed an embarrassing crush on Jeremy Sumpter for his portrayal of Pan in the 2003 Warner Bros live action film. But in setting out to bring this classic to the Crete Street stage, Bradley decided to do something different; create a reimagined Peter Pan that makes space for queer representation. The result is a fantastically original production of Peter Pan that shows Bradley’s passion for the text; establishing a world where all children are seen, regardless of how they identify. Bradley’s directorial vision conjures an amazing rendition of Neverland and Peter Pan that sparkles with magic from beginning to end.
The set design featuring graffiti by the talented James Smalls is wonderfully creative. Bursting with flecks of colour and spray paint, Neverland appears on stage as if by magic. Created with simple spray paint graffiti panels with words to indicate the set pieces as “tree” or “boat”, the concept is fantastic. The costumes created by Tayla Simpson are everything they should be and more. Every character is flawlessly fitted in their full glory complete with pirate hats and stunning mermaid costumes. The lost boys outfitted in rainbow colours are a wonderful addition to an LGBTQ+ reimagining. The lighting design by Donovan Wagner is simple but successful and serves the show well throughout. Megan Burnett’s sound design is effective and works well. From start to finish, the choreography by Erin Brummage and fight choreography by Dudley Powell is hilarious, spectacular, and well-executed. The slow-motion fight scenes in particular are an audience favourite.
As Wendie Darling, Ethan Hill brings a wonderful sensitivity. Taking on a fresh perspective on Wendie, Ethan’s acting highlights the struggles of all boys who were ever told to “be a man”. Ethan is no doubt talented and his performance feels genuine. Dérito da Costa’s Peter Pan is the absolute star of the show. Dérito has a fabulous stage presence and an energy that sparks such joy. His take on Peter Pan is nuanced, showing the darker sides of this beloved childhood character with skill. Together, Ethan and Dérito create a believable Pan and Wendie, drawing laughter from the audience.
As the infamous Captain Hook and the narrator, the lovely Daniel Dosek is perfect from start to finish. Daniel’s performance shows his flair for the dramatic and his skill portraying an ever-so-slightly camp Hook. Daniel is an excellent performer who brings a fun, quirky style to his work.
Supporting Peter Pan and the Lost Boys is the serious Tiger Lily, another character that is gender-swapped. Portraying Tiger Lily is the talented Jai Godbold. Jai’s performance is the perfect serious counterpart for Peter’s crazy antics making Peter and Tiger Lily an excellent pair with great chemistry.
Supporting Wendie as the Darling siblings are Alyssa Burnett and Bailey Ryan as Joan and Michael. Alyssa’s Joan is serious, and her excellent performance is a great success; challenging the gender normative world of the show. Bailey’s performance as Michael is adorable, a stunning young actor in the making.
As George and Mary Darling, David Murdoch and Della Days are just excellent. The duo each bring their own unique flair to the stage, making some of the show’s best comedic moments. The audience especially loves David’s portrayal of George whose macho bravado quickly crumbles when the children disappear.
The Lost Boys, brought to life by Nick Hargreaves (Slightly), Kohen Arstall (Tootles), Holly Delchau (Nibs), Chase Riley (Curly), Summer Smith (First Twin) and Chloe Weise (Second Twin) are all spectacular. These young actors work together effortlessly, bringing the Lost Boys to the stage with gusto. The comedic moments are excellently timed and executed. Particularly spectacular is the lovely Nick Heargreaves who creates an absolutely hilarious and memorable Slightly.
The rest of this spectacular ensemble is comprised of Peter White, Jessica White, Peter Manias, Tayla Simpson, Harrison Port, Justin Ryan, Rebecca Bennett, Max Phythian, Edwina Vassallo, Jack Winrow, Rachel Riggall, Anastacia Jreige and Isabella Dagg portraying a range of different characters from pirates to mermaids. This group of talented performers make this show an absolute joy to watch. Creating a world that feels like children playing, reminding us all what it was like to be young.
A huge shout out goes to the talented Jessica White and Edwina Vassallo who tackle the task of puppeteering Nana and Tinker Bell with passion. And last but certainly not least, Jack Winrow whose dedication to the role of the crocodile is spectacular. It is not an easy job to take on these kinds of roles (which can feel a little silly) with commitment but these three certainly rose to the occasion.
Overall, Beenleigh Theatre’s Peter Pan is wonderfully uplifting, laugh-out-loud funny and a triumphant celebration of imagination. The queer reimagining is wonderfully executed, allowing for a diversity in the gender representation never before seen in Peter Pan. The timeless story delivered by an immensely talented cast captures the hearts of the audience from beginning to end. This production evokes a magical sense of childlike joy. Bravo!