PETER PAN THE NEVER ENDING STORY to Tour UK; Launches 13 Dec. in Birmingham
Bother. Another stereotype out the window. Generations of europhobics have maintained that Belgium is boring. But tragically this Christmas, tens of thousands of people in seven UK cities will discover that this lovingly-held British prejudice is entirely untrue.
Because coming over the horizon from the land of mussels, Brussels bureaucrats and monastery-brewed beer is a very-(very)-far-from-boring and altogether extraordinary arena production. It's called "Peter Pan - The Never Ending Story". So watch out and hold onto your seat (if you're lucky enough to get one). This is one wild ride.
The show is a mix of theatre, illusion, circus, block-buster movie and rock spectacular rolled into one with 50 dancers, stuntmen, acrobats, magicians, and actors from 10 different countries and X-Factor favourite Stacey Solomon starring as Tinkerbell.
The technical effects are astounding: walls, forests and buildings dissolve, disappear, and miraculously re-form. Waterfalls cascade out of the ether. Lush rivers wind across the stage. Shooting stars, dreamy sky-scapes and London roof-top scenes. Pirates with cutlasses rampaging round rigging in mortal combat with Lost Boys bouncing and somersaulting through the air on bungees at heart-in-the-throat heights. This isn't something you just watch: it's virtually immersive.
Oh, and by the way, a free-flying performer. Not on a rope, not on a wire, not as a hologram run on an algorithm devised by a coder in a silo in a desert owned by Google. No. Peter Pan flies. On my life.
But hold on: have no doubt that all these effects are in the service of one fundamental thing. And that thing is the pure, simple sense of wonderment and magic which lies at the very heart of JM Barrie's deeply English classic. This is what has ensured that the work endures. This is what has endeared it to generations of children (and adults) since it first saw the light of day on stage on December 27th 1904. This is the spirit that this production both honours and respects. It's the open, honest emotional truth of this show which is just as striking as any of the spectacular effects.
There's an original score which wraps itself round a treasure chest of 16 top tracks from Robbie Williams to Rod Stewart, and from Supertramp to Seal to Puccini. The Musical Director is Matt Dunkley (the soundtrack mastermind behind Moulin Rouge and other minor movie successes like The Pirates of the Caribbean). He's worked with U2, Massive Attack and Tom Jones and has also found spare moments to conduct the LSO and the RPO.
The formidable Luc Petit directs. He collaborated with Franco Dragone on Cirque du Soleil productions for 10 years and was the man who created the opening ceremony at Euro 2000. The Artistic Director and pioneer of this show's original idea is Geert Allaert (CEO Music Hall Ltd), who has brought productions from Cats and Les Miserable through to classic opera to Belgium. And choreography is led by the brilliant and classically-trained ex-ballet dancer Martino Muller from Switzerland. The creative team is truly premier league.
Oh no this isn't panto. It's the essential family entertainment this year. It's magic, it's exciting, it's enthralling, it's bewitching, it's fun, it's live adventure, it's spectacular.
And it's from Belgium.
The show will appear in seven cities across the UK at Christmas;
· December Friday 13th - Sunday 15th - Birmingham NIA
· December Saturday 21st - Monday 23rd - Nottingham Capital FM Arena
· December Thursday 26th - Friday 27th - Leeds First Direct Arena
· December Sunday 29th - Monday 30th - Manchester Phones 4U Arena
· January Thursday 2nd - Saturday 4th 2014 - London Wembley Arena
· January Friday 10th - Sunday 12th 2014 - Glasgow The SSE Hydro
· January Wednesday 15th - Thursday 16th 2014 - Newcastle Metro Radio Arena