From the opening laser show to the curtain call medley, via pirates, fairies, an oversized dog, a smidgen of audience participation and oodles of heartfelt Europop, Peter Pan El Musical is a show like no other. Hailing from Spain, this musical version of JM Barrie’s famous story features original music, lyrics and choreography by a Spanish musical theatre team, and is sung and spoken in Spanish, with English surtitles. Caroline Bishop was at the Garrick for last night’s Iberian extravaganza.
This must be the only Peter Pan in the history of the story to teach Spanish to his audience. Indeed, at one point in the second half of this eclectic musical production, Miguel Antelo’s energetic Peter had some sporting audience members singing ‘I believe in fairies’ in Spanish. That’s not something you see in the West End everyday.
In fact, a large proportion of the first night audience were Spanish speakers, with the English contingent supported by the vivid surtitles running above the stage, translating the onstage action and the lyrics to the songs by composers Cesar Constanti and Pablo Pinilla. Those songs – a mixture of Eurovision-style pop ballads, disco numbers and a liberal smattering of electric guitar – accompany the story of Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up, as he whisks siblings Wendy, Michael and John away from their London home for a series of adventures in Neverland.
Colourful and exuberant, this is a show that tries hard to please its audience with a cast that seems to be enjoying itself immensely. Set-pieces include Peter teaching Wendy and her brothers to fly, an unusual dance by some scantily-clad mermaids, an acrobatic display by a troupe of American Indians and a spot of disco dancing by the Lost Boys. Added to which there is a rather sentimental Captain Hook (Spanish musical theatre star Miguel Angel Gamero), who seems actually quite fond of his arch nemesis Peter, and an elegant narrator in the form of show creator and director Cristina Fargas.
It remains to be seen if the enthusiastic Spanish cast can get West End audiences believing in fairies. What is certain is that Peter Pan El Musical provides a continental musical theatre experience you are unlikely to find anywhere else in London. em>CB