Broadway Review: PETER PAN GOES WRONG (Ethel Barrymore Theatre)

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by Kevin Vavasseur on April 20, 2023

in Theater-New York


Nancy Zamit (Annie)

There’s a story but not really. The problems start before the production even begins and continue throughout, growing in size and devastation until the stage is finally littered with bodies, mostly still breathing. What is fascinating about this production is the speed, efficiency and imagination in which the creative team is able to create continually mounting mishaps in this community-theater-on-crack production of Peter Pan – and the skill and believability of the actors who hopefully make it through to the end unscathed (in real life anyway).

Nancy Zamit (Annie), Matthew Cavendish (Max), Jonathan Sayer (Dennis),
Charlie Russell (Sandra), Bianca Horn (Gill), Ellie Morris (Lucy)

Like the aforementioned Mr. Lewis, the finely tuned cast is skilled and comical across the board – from Greg Tannahill’s lothario Peter Pan, to Charlie Russell’s declamatory Wendy to Mathew Cavendish’s constantly blushing, younger brother Michael (often the target of said humiliations) to Jonathan Sayer’s very literal, older brother John (who needs obvious headphones to remember his lines) to Henry Shields John Cleese-infused Captain Hook to Nancy Zamit’s show-stealing Tinkerbell. They are a talented cast who play extremely well off each other. Audience favorite Neal Patrick Harris joins the mayhem through May 7 with Mr. Harris turning on his considerable star power in service of the play when appropriate. Otherwise, he’s just another member of this very bonkers troupe of performers who mostly all play multiple roles. On that note, Mr. Harris scores as a mumbling, rather dense pirate and as the show’s Narrator, who has seemingly made an enemy of an untrustworthy chair. (Ellie Kemper takes on the Narrator role from June 20-25.)

Charlie Russell, Greg Tannahill, Henry Lewis,
Henry Shields, Bartley Booz, Nancy Zamit

Scenic design by Simon Scullion impresses – mostly by the methodical way the sets destroy themselves (you’ll never trust a bunk bed again). The last sequence which features the stage spinning out of control is a technical and staging marvel, with the entire cast hanging on for dear life in a cacophony of physical comedy, while still completing their respective storylines as they navigate through the multiple sets. And then there’s that stage hand hanging upside down from the fly system who might have a concussion…

photos by Jeremy Daniel

Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Ethel Barrymore Theater
ends on July 9, 2023 EXTENDED to July 23, 2023
then plays The Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles
August 6 through September 10, 2023 (opening is set for August 11, 2023)
for tickets, visit Pan Goes Wrong or The Ahmanson

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