There are shows in New York that cater exclusively to children. There are others targeted to the adult demographic. Rarely does a piece of entertainment deliver equal satisfaction to both groups, especially on Broadway.
Yet Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields have hit the bulls-eye for high quality family entertainment with their British import of Peter Pan Goes Wrong. It’s not their proverbial first rodeo. Their theater troupe, Mischief, has been around since 2008. In 2012, their comedy The Play That Goes Wrong toured the United Kingdom before opening on the West End, where it is still running. In 2017, they transferred their hijinks to Broadway where the show had a successful run before closing and re-opening Off-Broadway where it is still delighting audiences.
Now they are hoping that lightning will strike twice for New York audiences with Peter Pan Goes Wrong. If a recent preview performance, complete with fun audience interaction and audible belly laughs is any indication, they should have nothing to worry about. Clearly, they are already planning for a hit, with a UK tour slated to begin in September 2023.
This laugh- a- minute physical comedy begins with the Cornley Drama Society staging their version of the J.M. Barrie classic, Peter Pan. Their last performance of Jack and the Beanstalk ran out of funding and thus, was merely called Jack and the Bean. Now, they are able to mount the childhood tale, thanks largely in part to a huge endowment from Max Bennett’s (Matthew Cavendish) uncle. Max is the rather dim cast member portraying one of the Darling children, Michael. All of his lines are fed to him by headphones—often to awkward results.
There are other winning turns by this company, particularly by Nancy Zamit who, with quick change precision toggles between the housekeeper, Matriarch Mary Darling, and Tinkerbell. The entire cast plays so well together that their specific farce style delivery seems innate.
Television and stage star Neil Patrick Harris guest stars through May 7 as Francis, the story’s narrator, and Neverland Pirate, Cecco. He comfortably adapts to his fellow Brits and their antics.
Farce can often be a tedious exercise and at some moments during the two hour show, it feels as though too much fairy dust has been sprinkled over the Barrymore theater. Overall however, this is a winning escape from the doldrums and drama of real life.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th Street) through July 9th. For tickets and information, click here.
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