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The Christmas spirit came to the Bristol Hippodrome this week for the opening of the seasonal pantomime Peter Pan and what a festive treat awaits theatre fans.

Its watchword should be ‘let us entertain you’ as it certainly did.

The city centre panto doesn’t quite follow the JM Barrie storyline instead it gives you a tummy-aching comedic masterclass from which you can’t stop laughing.

Andy Ford as the pirate Smee is full of energetic brilliance, the diminutive David Suchet now in his 77th year brings some Poiret gravitas to the role of Captain Hook, and Steps all-singing and all-dancing super star Faye Tozer as Mimi the magical mermaid had a stock of one-liners referencing past pop hits.

The 90s group impressive tally of 13 Top 5 singles in a row all got mentioned including the big hits of Tragedy, Stomp and Deeper Shade of Blue.

There were many awe-inspiring moments in this swashbuckling fairy story but standing seven-foot tall in her stiletto heels the costumes wore by Ceri Dupree as statuesque Mrs Smee which included a goldfish bowl dress brought tears of joy to my eyes.

Although one description of her was ‘mutton dressed as ferret’ haha.

Yes, there were naughty bits not least someone’s bare bum – but that’s pant-o'-time – however, the smuttiness was minimal although the tongue-twisting routine front of stage which include references to ‘hissing in a pit of pythons’ set many an excited  toddler in the audience on a hurried toilet break!

There were lots best bits performed by the cast and not wanting to spoil some unexpected twists and turns let us just tell you about Andy’s ‘Ahoy, Bristle’ entrances and the hilarious things that didn’t go ‘alright on the night’ they all were an absolute delight.

What can I say about Mrs Smee and son coming on as Barbie and Ken, it is still making me smile the morning after a great night before.

The roles of Peter Pan (Hugo Rolland), Wendy (Molly Farmer) and the two lost boys John (Oliver John Folkard) and Michael Darling (Arlow Rees) or Nana the dog weren’t pivotal to this panto plot although Tinkerbell had a stage presence as the ‘real’ stars were the aforementioned big hitters who simply stole the show.

Apart from Caption Hook losing more than a limb to the crocodile, the teddy bear owned by Michael being badly treated by the pirates and a loose leg that went flying off at one point although not into the audience like the five rubber rings all was good!

The theatre was packed for press night on Tuesday and even the Cary Grant bar had been turned into a ‘buggy park’, outside the snow machine and pirates on stilts filled the crowds with anticipation of the treat to come.

Lots of local references during the show including Andy saying shopping in Nailsea on Wednesday is a no-no!

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Peter Pan stars in Bristle theatre

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The set if a little static is a sparkly wonder and coloured searchlights stretching into the audience added to the festive atmosphere.

Really recommend this panto as me and mine loved every minute.

Online tickets from £13 plus booking fee for Peter Pan which runs until Sunday, December 31, are here

Review: Carol Ann Deacon

Photos: Matt Dawson

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