Talk of the Town: ‘Our show has great ingredients for panto’

Talk of the Town: 'Our show has great ingredients for panto'

So Tom, this year Wicked are taking on Peter Pan – can you tell us a little bit about it please?

The last time we performed Peter Pan was the final ever performance at the beloved Royal Victoria Hall Theatre in Southborough back in 2014. With a rewrite and new routines it’s a really funny show and I think one of our best. It’s such a great story and full of magic.

Are you fazed that the Assembly Hall are also doing a version of Peter Pan?

I have a very close relationship with the Assembly Hall and have had the pleasure of producing our Easter shows there for many years. When deciding on Christmas productions myself and the theatre manager do liaise with each other but this year we just settled on the same production. Hopefully this won’t happen in the future and we’re already planning different titles for next year. I wish them all the success with their run as I’m sure it will be great.

When did you find out that you were both putting on the same pantomime?

We found that out back in November 2018

What are the fundamental differences between your production and theirs?         

Well I’m not sure till I go see it, but I guess we have more local talent in ours with 90 per cent of the professional cast coming from Tunbridge Wells and surrounding area. I don’t really want to compare our style of pantomime with theirs as we are both very different. We aim to make our pantomimes a little more affordable for local people as we know Christmas can be a financial burden on some families. Our scripts are very comedy driven as we love a funny show!

Tell us about your version of Peter Pan – who’s in it?

Our version fuses the original story with traditional pantomime. We have a wonderful Dame AKA Michael Fenton Stevens, who is back for his third year playing a saucy pirate called Sea Dog Sally. He’s wonderful and we’re having a lot of fun in the rehearsal room. We also have a great baddie in Chris Ellison playing Hook.

‘We have some great comedy routines, epic musical numbers and special effects including a giant crocodile’

He’s known for his film work and playing DI Burnside in the long running series The Bill. We have some great comedy routines throughout the show and some epic musical numbers and special effects including a giant crocodile. It really is a great script!

You’re working with Michael Fenton Stevens again – what do you like most about your partnership?

He just knows panto inside out. With his experience in comedy it’s just easy. He knows what I’m thinking on stage and is always up for improvising when things go wrong. We really do work so well together and I love him dearly.

Tell us a little bit about your character Smee

Well in our version he isn’t too much of a baddie. I can’t give anything away but he might help in some way to defeat Captain Hook. It’s a great fun part and I get to be very silly in this one.

What attracted you to doing this particular panto?

Who doesn’t love a story about not growing up and being a child forever and having fun? It has great ingredients for panto. Silly pirates, a fantastic baddie and a flying hero in tights.

Any challenges involved in doing it?

So many! It’s the most technical show we do and takes a long time to rehearse all those aspects of the show. We also built new scenery and effects and repainted everything ready for this season.

Do you still try and weave in a little current news angle or two into the script and if so does this mean you’re editing up to the wire?

We do have references to some big news articles from this year – you’ll have to come and see the show if you want to find out what they are…

Do you adapt and update your script during the run?

Every single time, yes. Improving our shows and making them more current for our fantastic audiences is a must-do for us.

What do you think your audience will enjoy most about seeing your version of Peter Pan?

The comedy! We always get families getting in touch saying they all had tears of laughter throughout and that we made their Christmas!

If you could sum up your Peter Pan in three words, what would they be?


For tickets and timings on Peter Pan at the EM Forster Theatre see

This year the charities benefiting from bucket collections at each performance of Peter Pan are Taylor Made Dreams and Sustain foodbank in Tonbridge.


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