In David Hasselhoff, Nottingham’s Theatre Royal must have secured one of the biggest names to appear in a pantomime anywhere this year.
But the former Baywatch actor more than lives up to his star-billing as Peter Pan’s nemesis Captain Hook, in what is a hilarious, entertaining and all-round excellent show.
Whenever Hasselhoff is on stage, he commands the audience’s attention with his dominating presence, flamboyant costume and brilliant performance.
The American fully embraces the very British tradition of pantomime, poking fun at himself and enjoying a bit of off-script banter, while his singing voice was strong, powerful and much better than most would have imagined.
But while Hasselhoff may be the main attraction, he is supported by a cast that all more than play their part.
Barney Harwood was a likeable, if slightly two-dimensional Peter, and Su Pollard a very sparkly Mimi The Magical Mermaid, who cracked constant fish-themed jokes and was very good at getting the audience involved.
Her songs were some of the best in the panto to watch and she put her years of stage experience to very good use in a very professional performance.
Tinkerbell (Isobel Hathaway), Tiger Lily (Billie Kay) and Wendy (Hannah Nicholas) all put in strong singing performances but the surprise package of the panto has to be Ben Nickless’ Mr Smee.
He was easily the funniest character and time and again had the audience wiping tears of laughter from their eyes as he delivered pun, after joke, after comic one-liner.
His interaction with the children who were hauled up on stage was priceless, while a smutty story written around the names of well-known sweets was simply side-splitting.
Smee and Hook made a great double act but the enduring image from the show has to be Nickless in a grotesque Pamela Anderson costume, complete with singing boobs. Words cannot describe!
Theatre Royal pantomimes always have stunning sets and top notch effects and Peter Pan was no different.
The flying scenes, which were well executed by Peter and Wendy, had the watching children spellbound, while the chance to throw sponge ‘stones’ at Hook to help Pan defeat him was an opportunity pounced upon by everyone in the front few rows.
Peter Pan really was thoroughly enjoyable. The only criticism is that perhaps there was not enough actual ‘pantomime’ in the script. A few more chances for boos, hisses and ‘it’s behind you’s would not have gone amiss.
Peter Pan is on at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham until Sunday 12th January 2014.