Peter Pan, Opera House, Manchester - Review

08.12.12 Opera House, Manchester, UK. Pictures from Peter Pan with David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook. Photo credit : Phil Tragen

08.12.12 Opera House, Manchester, UK. Pictures from Peter Pan with David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook. Photo credit : Phil Tragen

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The party has started early to mark the 100th birthday of this venerable theatre.

The actual centenary may be Boxing Day, but with this pantomime in place the decorations have been put up, the birthday cake made and the invites handed out.

OK, some of the cast members may actually act as if they haven’t yet been introduced to eachother – and no-one can probably remember who invited the three Supremes-style singers who keep turning up between scenes – but nothing, and I mean nothing, is ever going to get in the way of this freebooting feast of entertainment.

Let other venues try and re-invent the staple diet of Christmas entertainment, but the Opera House sticks to what it knows best, and to what it will probably be presenting in another 100 years’ time for that matter. Never mind what’s behind you, they know what they’ll always have in front of them.

Actually that will be Aladdin next year, and while the cast is yet to be announced you can only hope that it again includes Tam Ryan.

In Peter Pan it’s his third appearance in a row here and his asset-value is tremendous.

As the harlequin character of Smee he’s the cheeky chappie who balances on that risqué high-wire between keeping the children and the adults amused, simultaneously.

“Come on, you know how it works,” he goads them all, following all the panto rules with genuine panache – audience involvement, local references, kids on stage, community singsong, gangnam-style dancing etc.

Chief among the protocols nowadays is that there is an official star of the show and this year that’s David Hasselhof, on record as the Most Watched TV Star on the Planet, thanks to Baywatch and Knight Rider.

And he’s certainly the Most Watched whenever on stage here as ‘Hoff the Hook’!

Some of his singing may be a little hoff-key, but he can certainly hold a note, and sends himself up delightfully as a slightly camp villain.

In the hands of these two characters this pantomime really entertains, and if the story in between their scenes occasionally gets in the way then at least it’s performed with some vigour.

Peter Pan run until January 13.

David Upton