'Panto soars high above the rest' - Peter Pan at Derby Arena

Morgan Brind as Dame Hilda.
Morgan Brind as Dame Hilda.

With its dazzling wardrobe and equally dazzling bad jokes, this crazy pantomime is brought to life by a fantastic cast at Derby Arena.

As always, there is no better way to prepare for Christmas than by shouting your heart out at a man in a monstrous wig and lumpy dress. And pantomime dame Morgan Brind fails to disappoint yet again as Dame Hilda, assaulting eyeballs with a brilliant selection of distasteful outfits. Morgan has been nominated for an award for her performances as a dame and it's very easy to see why. He commands the stage with exceptionally quick wit and has the audience waiting with baited breath for his next appearance throughout, as well as offering the most laughs of the show. A particular highlight of the pantomime is Captain Hook shouting to Dame Hilda "you foolish lady!" and her responding "how dare you! I may be foolish... but I most certainly am not a lady."

Captain Hook and Tinkerbell.

Captain Hook and Tinkerbell.

And the terrible jokes didn't stop there - this year's pantomime is particularly laced with puns from start to finish. Lose focus for a second and you will have missed at least a dozen questionable quips.

This year’s extravaganza also offers some well-known faces and catchy songs, including numbers from the The Greatest Showman, Lewis Capaldi and the Beach Boys.

A masterful performance comes from super-villain Captain Hook, as played by Emmerdale favourite Bill Ward, who is equally hated and loved by the audience. A great show also comes from Richard Brindley, who plays Hook's parrot 'Quick Draw Macaw'. His sharp wit adds to the clever breaking of the fourth wall throughout and stands out in particular when the character interviews children from the audience at the end of the show. Also worth a mention is the charming Marilyn the Mermaid, played by Abigail Finley.

And the show is, of course, peppered with local references and frightfully familiar Derbyshire accents and stereotypes throughout.

The Lost Children.

The Lost Children.

With its swashbuckling energy and a whole heap of panto silliness, Peter Pan is a panto that soars above the rest and has the arena buzzing with excitement from start to finish.

It’s also great to see that after a bit of a shaky beginning, the velodrome continues to flourish year after year as a theatre space. I have to say that the sound was particularly impressive this year, after a few mishaps in previous years. And the special effects this year are brilliant, with wires seeing Peter Pan soaring above the audience.

Peter Pan is running at Derby Arena until Saturday, January 4. Tickets range from £13.50 to £31.50. Call 01332 255800 or visit www.derbylive.co.uk for more information or to book.