PETER PAN The Pantomime

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

18/11/2017 - 23/12/2017

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

02/01/2018 - 13/01/2018

Production Details

Written by Pinky Agnew and Lorae ParryBased on the novel by J.M. Barrie
Directed by Susan Wilson


GET HOOKED this Pantomime season with one of the most loved stories of all times.  

Peter Pan and the troublesome Tinkerbell whisk Wendy away to the wondrous world of Neverland. Without Google Maps, their only directions are: ‘Second on the right and straight on ‘til morning!’ Meet the Lost Boys, the cunning crocodile and the crooked Captain Hook!  And of course, there’s the Dame, played by all-time favourite Gavin Rutherford.

Director, Susan Wilson and Musical Director, Michael Nicholas Williams combine forces once again to bring you the annual, eagerly awaited Circa Pantomime. Susan has been the director of all the Circa Pantomimes since their inception at Circa Theatre twelve years ago and together with music maestro Michael Nicholas Williams produce an outstanding team. We are delighted to have the script written by Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry who bring their own unique take on this much-loved story by JM Barrie. 

Peter Pan opened as a play in 1904 and it was followed by the novel in 1911. The novel has endured over the years as has the play. There have been numerous musicals, movies and Pantos. The story of Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, still captures the imagination and delight of children everywhere.

CIRCA THEATRE, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington 
18 NOV – 23 DEC 2017
& 2-13 JAN 2018
TUES to SAT 6.30, SUN 4PM 
BOOKINGS:  Circa Theatre | 04 801 7992


Gavin Rutherford as Katie Pie
Bronwyn Turei as Mrs Darling / Xena Lily / Tinkerbell / Areefa Plankton
Simon Leary as Mr Darling / Captain Hook
Camilla Besley as Wendy
Jeff Kingsford-Brown as Smee / Winston
Ben Emerson as Dunnie
Cary Stackhouse as Peter Pan
Manuel Solomon as Hone / Nana

Set Designer – John Hodgkins 
Musical Staging – Leigh Evans
Costumes – Sheila Horton
Lighting Designer – Jennifer Lal
Stage Manager – Eric Gardiner
Audio Technician – Bonnie Judkins
Technical Operator – Oliver Buckley
Publicity – Colleen McColl
Graphic Design – Rose Miller Kraftwork
Photography – Stephen A’Court
Box Office Manager – Eleanor Strathern
Front of House – The dedicated Circa team
Set Construction – John Hodgkins
Hair Stylist – Vicky Kothroulas
Lighting/Sound crew – Antony Goodin, Tony Black, Zoe Higgins, Simon Blackwell, Danni Sciascia
Pack-in crew: John Hodgkins, Alan Wilton, Taylor Joynes, Brian Fairbrother, Duncan Perrat, Quinn Williams

Theatre , Musical , Family , Pantomime ,

1 hr 45mins incl. interval

Bright, energetic and full of fun

Review by Ewen Coleman 20th Nov 2017

While everything is changing in and around Circa Theatre, one thing that hasn’t changed in over 10 years is the end-of-year pantomime directed by Susan Wilson.  

It is a very successful formula that always draws large crowds, young and old, into the theatre, and although this year’s panto has a new set of creators, Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry, it is just as bright, energetic and full of fun as ever.

There are jokes aplenty, probably more appalling than usual, but nevertheless very funny, as well as great musical numbers performed with great panache and creative choreography. [More]  


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Panto genre refreshed to give this family tradition a whole new lease of life

Review by John Smythe 19th Nov 2017

In Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry’s pantomimed reimagining of J M Barrie’s play, Peter Pan: the boy who wouldn’t grow up, Wellington is Neverland (because it’s so windy planes can never…). Forgive me but I need to give at least one gag away to exemplify the humour that’s liberally threaded throughout the show.

The tropes of Barrie’s 1904 classic and the Circa pantomime genre (launched in 2005 with Roger Hall’s Cinderella) with director Susan Wilson at the helm throughout, are happily revisited and judiciously subverted to the clear delight of all ages.

The first departure from Barrie is the introduction of a Dame. Katie Pie – embodied with customary flair by Gavin Rutherford like a slightly tatty but comfy favourite garment – is a “poor widow woman” who lives in a cold, damp, Aro Valley flat. Her crooked landlord is the piratical Captain Hook, manifested with sociopathic charm by Simon Leary.

Katie works as housekeeper-cum-babysitter for the Darling family in Days Bay and the ferryman that transports her across the harbour in his waka is Winston Tweeters (Jeff Kingsford-Brown in good form). As played by the wonderfully versatile Bronwyn Turei, her warrior princess daughter, Xena Lily, brings the true heroic oomph to the show. Xena’s initial quest, before the story proper kicks in, is to save the Little Blue Penguin so we know she’s a goodie.

The socialite parents of the Darling family, sketched in by Turei and Leary, have only two children. Michael, very much an afterthought baby, stays in the Bay. So it’s only the adolescent fantasist Wendy – epitomised by Camilla Besley as pure and innocent but summoning spunk where it counts – who allows herself to be spirited away from predictability by Peter Pan. She quickly makes it clear, however, she will not be their domestic slave.

As the titular ‘hero’, who claims to have run away from home the day he was born, Cary Stackhouse captures the essence of a boy who’s a legend in his own mind, if not in ‘reality’ (whatever that is). While he and Besley (both Whitireia Performing Arts graduates) revert to American Musical accents for their big numbers, they sing beautifully, in solos and together.

Adding exceptional strength to the song and dance skills of an already highly accomplished cast are Ben Emerson and Manuel Solomon as Dunnie (Peter Redundant) and Hone (Here-a-party) respectively: the only two Lost (seat) Boys (downsized from Barrie’s original six). Solomon also puts in a winning turn as a break-dancing Nana, the dog.

Shelia Horton’s costumes serve the story splendidly. Jennifer Lal’s lighting design ensures the sense of magic and wonder is maintained as the story plays out on John Hodgkins’ multi-levelled, star-scape evoking set, wherein the fun is enhanced by projections of recognisable Wellington spots (graphic design by Rose Miller, Kraftwork).

While previous Circa pantos have generated original songs, this Peter Pan reverts to the tradition of reworking the lyrics of contemporary and old favourite pop songs, arranged by musical director and one-man-band Michael Nicholas Williams, with musical staging by Leigh Evans.

Thus Peter Pan has ‘Gotta Keep Moving’, Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ song gets a good run, those Lost Boys are ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ and Turei’s Xena Lily morphs into Areefa Plankton to command ‘Respect’, accompanied by a chorus line of Mermaids. Eschewing the convention of the Baddie and Dame hooking up, it’s Katie and Smee who share the Herman’s Hermits feeling ‘I’m Into Something Good’. And although the Circa standard, ‘The Pantomime Whirl’, is reprised at one point, the finale is reserved for S Club 7’s ‘Reach For The Stars’.

Some of the salacious humour seems out of place (Katie’s promise to save an audience member’s sausage roll “fellata”, etc) and I’m not the only one to find Hook’s predatory and dangerous lunge up Katie’s skirt to be astonishingly ‘tone deaf’ in the current climate of heightened awareness of abusive behaviour. Hopefully that non-gag (supposedly about his hook getting snagged) will disappear.

Otherwise the verbal and physical humour is delightfully pitched by all. Katie’s penchant for podcast ‘affirmations’ is a gem. And while there is plenty to keep the adults amused, it’s never at the expense of the central story: the nocturnal escape to Neverland; the existential ‘lostness’ in perpetual childhood while always wanting someone to read bedtime stories; Captain Hook’s desire for revenge against Peter Pan for causing the Crocodile to bite off his hand; the ensuing confrontations and the overcoming of danger to achieve a happy ending … The young audience is entranced throughout.

There is audience participation aplenty; on opening night we rise to the occasions with vocal gusto. And when those Lost Boys, hunting with bows and arrows, inadvertently shoot down Tinkerbell (Turei again, when the fairy is not a flitting light), the children readily flock to the stage to play their part in bringing her back to life.

The general post-show consensus is that Peter Pan the pantomime has refreshed the genre and given Circa Theatre’s end-of-year family tradition a whole new lease of life.  


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