Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Peter Pan tour is a visual delight
This big-budget production of the fairy tale story is visually stunning with huge screens and special effects transforming the audience into a fantasy world with crocodiles, the Lost Boys and Captain Hook.
Dramatic scenes in Peter Pan
Based in the centre of the arena, Victorian London and Neverland are created through images on huge screens and specialist lighting. The energetic cast run frantically around the huge space and appear through trap doors to keep the action moving swiftly.
Featuring pop songs from Robbie Williams, Duran Duran and the like, it has a touch of the modern about it too. Peter Pan (Sandor Sturbl) is a frolicking elfen character with the hairdo and charm of Harry Styles from One Direction. While Wendy (Lilly Jane Young) is an enigmatic, gutsy gal fighting the pirates in trainers. Both have fabulous voices.
Meanwhile, it's refreshing to see dastardly Captain Hook as an opera buff singing arias as he carries out his evil antics.
Popular singer Stacey Solomon was promoted heavily as Tinker Bell for the performance in Birmingham, and while her voice is heard narrating the tale from start to finish, it's disappointing that she only appears to perform one song towards the end of the story.
Despite just the one song - You Lift Me Up - the former X Factor and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here contestant performs it well and gets one of the biggest cheers of the night as she is an obvious crowd-puller.
The real highlight though is the special effects and gymnastics on stage. There's beautiful imagery involving indian Tiger Lily with dancers shaping themselves to look like windcatchers. While the Lost Boys perform breathtaking acrobats and balance high up towards the arena roof.
Then there is the huge crocodile, which creeps into the arena with its glowing eyes and delights both the children and older members of the audience. Manned by at least ten people under its green exterior, it steals the show.
Much has been made of seeing Peter Pan fly "without a harness" and there are sections of the show when he is blown into the air by a powerful wind turbine, but it's more of a gimmick than actually adding much to the show. The rest of the time Peter and Wendy are flying about on strings and that doesn't spoil the essence of this wonderful tale.
It was interesting to see that in Birmingham, this fairytale attracted many local celebrities with their children including singer Jamelia, rugby player Ben Cohen - fresh from his stint on Strictly Come Dancing - and motoring expert Quentin Willson.
But on such a big scale, the show at Birmingham NIA felt a bit too removed from the audience, and while it contained all the ingredients for a spectacular, there was something slightly lacking to make it truly memorable.
The tour now continues to venues across the UK.
Peter Pan - The Never Ending Story Arena Tour
13th - Dec 15th 2013 - The NIA Academy, Birmingham
21st - Dec 23rd 2013 - Capital FM Arena Nottingham
26th - Dec 27th 2013 - First Direct Arena, Leeds
29th - Dec 30th 2013 - Manchester Arena
2nd - Jan 4th 2014 - Wembley Arena, London
10th - Jan 12th 2014 Hydro Arena, Glasgow
15th - Jan 16th 2014 Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Tickets are priced between £20-£45.
You can buy tickets from The Ticket Factory or by calling 0844 581 1400.
Children under 12 get 10% off at all performances.
All performances of the Peter Pan Arena tour will benefit Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, continuing the legacy of JM Barrie's amazing gift of his copyright to the hospital in 1929.