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First look at the Lichfield Garrick’s new pantomime

Ian Adams as Captain Hook and Barney Harwood as Peter Pan

Ian Adams as Captain Hook and Barney Harwood as Peter Pan

It’s boiling hot outside as the late summer sun beats down, while the kids are still not back at school, so that can only mean one thing – it’s panto time again! Yes, in the wonderful and wacky world of theatre the folk behind our yuletide treats are already well forward with their preparations, and I went along to the launch of the Garrick’s new Christmas show to catch a glimpse of what we can all look forward to this year.

The answer is the Lichfield Garrick’s very own production of J.M. Barrie’s evergreen favourite Peter Pan, starring CBBC presenter Barney Harwood as the immortal boy himself. Barney is the son of regular panto favourite Barnaby, also making a very welcome return to Lichfield as Captain Hook’s comic side-kick Smee. Another Lichfield favourite and the show’s writer Ian Adams joins the duo to play the legendary villain Captain Hook himself.

I’ve been told so many confidential details about the show I’ve forgotten exactly which I’ve been asked not to reveal in case it spoils the surprises, but I think it’s okay to say there’ll be some spectacular flying, (well, it is Peter Pan) and jack-in-the-box Barney’s the ideal man for the job, full of enthusiasm for the show and his own role in it. He said:

“It’s a magical story with a surprise twist. I love the excitement of full-on panto, with audiences full of families and kids shouting out.”

Despite his youth Barney’s already had a long and illustrious TV career including winning a BAFTA (he tells me he’s presenting the awards this year). He’s been watching his dad Barnaby on stage ever since he was tiny, but this is the first time they’ve ever worked officially together except for an incident when he was ten playing the back-end of a cow.  He explained:

“I was so little my udder was dragging on the ground!”

The show’s writer Ian Adams is well-known to Garrick audiences after playing a series of spectacular and good-humoured dames over the last few Christmases, but this year he steps out of the frocks and into swash-buckling mode for the role of Peter’s arch enemy Captain Hook. He tells me he found writing the show was the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. He said:

“It isn’t a panto, it’s a classic, and so the script is all about story telling.”

The cast of the Lichfield Garrick's Peter Pan

The cast of the Lichfield Garrick's Peter Pan

Ian also reports that the show’s Musical Director Adrian Jackson was “a delight to work with. Every time I sent him anything it came back even better than I could have hoped.”

Adrian sees the show as a full-blown musical, with a mixture of music from pop songs to show tunes. He added:

“You just can’t treat a great story like this without a great deal of respect, and so Ian’s adaptation is true to the book. But we’ve really gone to town this year with our special effects, and the audience are in for some real surprises.

“Peter Pan is going to be the most spectacular production the Lichfield Garrick has ever staged.”

I was allowed a quick glimpse of the sumptuous new costumes designed for the production and was impressed by the richness and colour of what promises to be a fantastic Christmas entertainment, so, roll on December I say.

Peter Pan opens at the Lichfield Garrick theatre on December 4 and runs until January 9, 2011, including a selection of daytime performances. For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or book seats online on

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  1. a maslen

    16th September, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    If the panto as good as the costumes we will be in for a cracker

  2. a maslen

    16th September, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    looks good