Going to the pantomime for many families across Britain is a tradition at Christmas time. Since being a young girl, I’ve seen countless shows with my family. Some better than others. So when a few months ago I found out that David Hasselhoff was playing Captain ‘Hoff’ The Hook in PETER PAN!! I of course grabbed tickets as fast as my little hands would type. I decided, considering I’m now 20 years old, I should maybe treat my mum to a night out of pure family fun. And that’s exactly what happened.
However, you’re probably wondering why this post, and a few others, haven’t been posted when I originally planned to post them. My grandfather fell ill the night of the 16th and honestly, I’ve been worried and stressed since then. He’s a fighter and I know things will be okay, but he’s just someone that’s been a huge part of my life, and I hate seeing him being so sick and vulnerable. That’s why this and some other posts will be late being posted.
So when we got to the theatre, I was feeling every single emotion you could think of. I was about to see one of my favourite ever shows, but I was also deeply worried and concerned for my grandfather’s health. My mum was doing her best to try and take my mind off of things, so we made our way through the crowd, picked up a program and headed to the merchandise stand. My eyes instantly locked on Peter’s hat, and suddenly, all the worries, the stress, the responsibilities I had as a 20 year old, faded away. I became 3 years old and that hat was all I wanted in life. So my mum bought the had for me, and told the lady at the stand what Peter Pan meant to me. She was so touched by what we said, the look on her face just said it all. Shortly after that, we headed towards our seats.
I knew exactly where we were sat, after all, I’d bought those tickets. But my mum, she was clueless. So when we walked through door A and asked where about row D would be, she almost fell to the floor. We were in fact 4 rows from the front. We could practically see David Hasselhoff sweat if we looked close enough. My mum’s excitement radiated off her and I ended letting go of any remaining stress or worries and just let my inner child come out for a few hours.
Starting off with the show, I was a bit taken aback. It’s been years since I actually went to a pantomime, and even then, I was still young enough to partake in the usual ‘oh no he’s not’ and ‘he’s behind you!’ and not be judged too harshly. So when the audience was asked to shout and sing, it felt a bit odd. Though, that didn’t last long. I would like to think towards the end of the show, I was the one that was screaming, clapping, laughing and even singing the loudest out of everyone.
The play itself was completely different to what Peter Pan’s real story is. I was a slightly saddened about that, but still, I enjoyed every single second of Peter Pan. The story followed close to the original tale by having Wendy, John and Michael going on an awfully big adventure to Neverland alongside Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and friends. Even if Peter Pan is my favourite thing in the entire world, I enjoyed other characters that weren’t meant to be the main focus. Mrs Smee played by Mike Doyle was phenomenal! He picked up on current affairs in politics for the grown ups to laugh at, he honed in on the audience and read the crowd so well, I truly believe that each audience had a brilliant yet unique time watching this incredible actor and comedian perform live on stage. He was kind and gentle when they brought on two really sweet kids on stage to do the traditional sing-along. Mrs Smee/ Mike Doyle was most definitely one of the best parts of the entire show. I was howling with laughter at everything he said and did. I felt like a child and an adult all at once. For someone who wants to go into the entertainment industry Doyle’s performance was impressive, honest and showed me everything that I wanted to see as an audience member, a creator and as a fan.
The moment that everything went from being pure child’s entertainment was the moment Captain Hoff The Hook came on stage. David Hasselhoff is the type of actor you’d never expect to see willingly taking the mick out of himself, however there he was in all his glory. Paying tributes to his previous roles in things like Baywatch, and playing to his well-known characteristics. The Hoff was truly remarkable and we could see that he had a special spark inside of him from the second he graced the stage. We sat four rows from the front so we could see him so clearly. The part where the and his pirates took water guns out and squirted the audience was the moment that David Hasselhoff noticed me. I was squealing with pure delight and childish glee that I forgot I was 20. My arms wrapped around my face and my leg (bizarrely enough) flung straight up into the air as if to ninja kick the water away from me. Hasselhoff noticed this, so he squirted me again, and again, and again.
His acting was phenomenal. I know it was a show aimed for children, but a pantomime is more than just a show for kids. It’s for the parents, the younger brothers and sisters, the older siblings, the aunts and uncles, the grandparents, friends, families, teenagers, adults, people with disabilities, people without disabilities. Pantomime is for everyone. I truly believe, after experiencing a beautifully crafted show that Peter Pan managed to capture the interest of every single person in the audience. Not one person could feel left out because of how special the actors made the show. The Hoff also contributed to the show by singing – which is something I never thought I’d see him do. He isn’t just this quirky gimmick that the director chose to have in the show, he can really sing. He blew me away with the power of his voice. The strength and courage he has to sing not just in front of an audience every night for about a month, but to do it whilst being hoisted into the air with countless distractions going on around him – that’s something I truly admire and I’m so thankful I got to see someone so talented perform.
The comedy between The Hoff and his fellow cast mates (especially Mike Doyle) absolutely made that show incredible. I probably appreciated it a lot more knowing how much effort went into making such a beautiful stage production with such an incredibly talented cast. Not one joke was lost on me this time round and I’m so thankful for that. It was one of the funniest nights of my life!
I was disappointed with certain parts of the show, but let’s be real here – will I ever be happy with anything that claims to be ‘Peter Pan’ unless it follows the exact narrative as the original? Probably not. There could have been a lot of changes to make it even better, but then I’m thinking as a director and a creative person, not as a member of the audience here. Looking back on it, a lot of the things that didn’t make sense to me were probably so that the children of the audience could have something to sing along to, dance to, or even relate to. The little girl sat next to us seemed to enjoy it all regardless of what I thought, so that’s the main thing. That everyone enjoyed the show and entered a world where everyone is a child and no one has to grow up.
If you still have the chance to go see Peter Pan or even see Mike Doyle or David Hasselhoff in any other production or solo tour, then please take that opportunity and see them! Mike Doyle and David Hasselhoff made for a charming duo that had the audience in stitches no matter their age. It was truly one of the best shows I’ve seen purely based on the sheer talent and hard work the incredible cast put into making each show special and unlike the last.
Once again, I’m so sorry this is extremely late going up. Things with Grandpa threw me off-balance, and just when I got back into the positive swing of things, I came down with the flu. Just my luck. I promise things will be a lot less spaced out again soon! Until next time, have an awfully big adventure!