Ross Petty retires his craft after 20 years of family fun with his final soiree, Peter Pan in Wonderland. Petty picks fun at a melange between J.M. Barrie’s, Peter Pan and Lewis Carroll’s, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in this holiday season’s fractured fairy tale. Written by Chris Earle and directed by Tracey Flye, Petty concludes his era with yet another romping, panto-good time.
With many recognizable songs rewritten to fit the musical’s narrative, audiences will recognize familiar hits from Bruno Mars to Céline Dion. The show starts with a quick comical disclaimer, raising the curtain on Wendy (Steffi DiDomenicantonio) trapped in her Toronto condo. Wendy receives an Amazon drone-delivered basket, presumably from Peter Pan (Anthony MacPherson), only to delve into the black hole of Wonderland sent by the mischievous villain, Captain Hook (Ross Petty), who is set out to steal Wendy’s locket and open the tickle trunk. Peter Pan emerges on the scene followed by audience favourite, Plumbum a.k.a. Tinkerbum (Dan Chameroy) who then start the journey into Wonderland.
The show brings extreme enjoyment for audiences young and old. The show adds childish flare mixed with adult humour to engage with those from nine to 90 years old. Everything from the choreography to the script is campy to the extreme. The orchestra is beautifully tuned to the melodies that capture both modern and timeless tunes from decades past.
Although entertaining, Earle’s script became too drawn out at times with a few scenes that served nothing but folly and uncertainty. However, the choreography mixed with Flye’s blocking serves for a great distraction from the less impactful moments offered by the script.
With a vocally talented cast, the question of Peter Pan’s ability is called into question. MacPherson does extremely well in the speaking roles and enthusiasm of ‘the boy who never grew up,’ but the production lacks a vocally strong protagonist to lead Tinkerbum, Alice (Jordan Clark), Mad Hatter (Lamar Johnson) and the Cheshire Cat (Taveeta Szymanowicz) through Wonderland.
Equally called into question is Ross Petty reviving his role as Captain Hook. Although he’s played masculine villains in the past, the choice to exit out of drag is nothing but a drag for those expecting to give their annual “Boo” to the man in a dress.
Jessica Holmes gives a fantastic performance as the Queen of Hearts, however this role could have easily been written to please those expected to celebrate Petty’s retirement. This was very disappointing, but Petty nonetheless had us ‘hooked,’ gracefully exiting en-Sinatra in “his way.”
Although this will not be the last Ross Petty production to hit the Elgin Stage, this is certainly one to remember. Families will laugh, couples will giggle, and everyone is sure to have a great time. Don’t miss out on this landmark production before it disappears, never to return again.
Peter Pan in Wonderland plays at the Elgin Theatre until Jan. 3. For more information visit http://rosspetty.com/.