REVIEW: Peter Pan The Musical at The Old Rep

Whether you've read the book, seen one of the various film incarnations or shaken his hand at Disney World, the story of Peter Pan is synonymous with the childhood of most young people across the country.

Peter is the creation of J.M. Barrie, who first mentioned the character in his 1902 novel, The Little White Bird. Barrie subsequently put him at the centre of a stage play entitled Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, which premiered on 27 December 1904 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London.

The character, and the story, are forever encapsulated in the psyche of a nation who have taken him to their hearts.

The subject of a number of statues and memorials, Barrie gifted the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in 1929; a decision which still provides a major source of income for the hospital in what seems like a perfect way to come full circle.

The story of the musical focuses on Peter and his relationship with Wendy Darling and her two brothers, John and Michael. Appearing in their room one evening, he convinces them to come to Never Land with him to take care of ‘The Lost’.

Alongside Peter's fairy friend, Tinkerbell, they fly there, only to be confronted by Peter's nemesis, Captain Hook.

Hook and his crew take Wendy and the children hostage and, whilst trying to save them, Peter has to fight off the pirates and save the day.

The story is a classic fairytale telling of good triumphing over evil, however with some slight differences to the screen versions you might have seen - not least a soundtrack!

Whilst then songs are pleasant, and definitely catchy, some of them do feel a little shoehorned in. Maybe it’s symptomatic of ‘classic’ musical theatre style - and the vast majority are well-crafted and relevant to the story - but in any case the performances are strong and vocals on point.

One noticeable alteration to the piece is the lack of Tinkerbell who is instead characterised by a light flying around the stage. If I'm honest, I've always been at odds with how I feel about that; whilst I appreciate that the character may well have been given more prominence in big-screen versions as a way to give roles to big-name stars, there is a certain benefit to including the biggest name in fairies in your production.

However, with that said, this particular light-up interpretation of the character, was executed flawlessly and managed to evoke a certain charm that can easily be lost.

But it was the cast on stage this evening who excelled and showed how good local theatre can be.

Thea Jo Wolfe took on the titular role and gave a strong, inspired performance. Delivering all of the classic lines, Wolfe’s energetic nature lent itself well to our hero’s persona and made for a loveable take on Peter.

The most appropriately named person on stage, Matthew Christmas, played the perfect Captain Hook. There’s always a risk with the character that you can over-egg the ‘pirate’ nature of the role and deliver a panto-style performance. However Christmas sat perfectly on the right side of the line and gave us a perfectly formed villain.

But performance of the night for me was Rhian Lynch's interpretation of Wendy which, from the start, seemed to be just perfect. The look was there as was the talent, but her take on the motherly, wise-beyond-her-years girl that tries to steal Peter's heart really rang true with Barrie's original narrative.

This show is a welcome addition to the Birmingham landscape this festive season. Showcasing the talent of our city and bringing a well-loved classic to life.

Peter Pan plays at The Old Rep until Sunday 31 December 2023. For more information, or to get your tickets, head online to

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