Review: PETER’S FINAL FLIGHT! (The PAN-Tastical Family Musical)

by Lynn on December 26, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Elgin Theatre, Toronto, Ont. until Jan. 7, 2023.

Live and in person at the Elgin Theatre, Toronto, Ont. Until Jan. 7, 2023

Written by Matt Murray

Directed by Tracey Flye

Set by Michael Gianfrancesco

Costumes by Ming Wong

Lighting by Jareth Li

Projection designer, Cameron David

Co-choreography by Tracey Flye and Jennifer Mote

Music director, arrangements and orchestrations by Bob Foster

Cast: Dan Chameroy

Eddie Glenn

Sara-Jeanne Hosie

Ross Petty

Stephanie Sy

Alex Wierzbicki

And eight wonderful dancers;

Silly, funny ‘bootiful’ holiday fun

This is the annual family musical of fractured stories produced by Ross Petty, who gives family’s a reason to laugh and boo at this time of year. This year is a bitter sweet affair because after more than 25 years of doing these kinds of fractured pantomime shows, Ross Petty is retiring. So, Peter’s Final Flight!is exactly that. It’s Ross Petty’s final production and it has all the hallmarks that one expects of a Ross Petty show, as well as some surprises.

The show is sort of based on Peter Pan, the boy who never wanted to grow up and his band of lost boys. In this case it’s the filming of the story of Peter Pan. Peter (Alex Wierzbicki) is a thoughtful actor playing Peter Pan. He’s very serious and knows who he is. His co-star, Erica (Stephanie Sy) plays Wendy and she misses her cue for a scene because she’s fallen asleep on the set. Peter is exasperated with her. Also, she is always on her Instagram account posting photos of her every movement.

Somehow, they get transported to Neverland. Captain Hook (Ross Petty) is dead (but his ghost is around)  and they have to deal with Mrs. Hook (Sara-Jeanne Hosie) who is mighty angry and vengeful and looks on these intruders as the real Peter Pan and Wendy. So she seeks revenge.

There is an odd character named Plumbum (Dan Chameroy) who has a purse with magic ferry dust, in case one gets into trouble. Unfortunately, Mrs. Hook steals the purse and therefore has the potential to be indestructible. Peter and his friends really have to stop Mrs. Hook.

If this sounds a bit complicated, I must confess that I found the story by Matt Murray, a bit too complex. But there are lots of sight gags, double entendres for the audiences and lots of opportunities to boo, which gets everybody revved up. Mrs. Hook makes her entrance with Smee, (Eddie Glen) her husband’s old side-kick, and as soon as the audience sees her all in black looking angry and forbidding, they begin to boo. She looks at them with disdain and they boo louder. She sneers and tells them to SHUT UP!!! And they boo harder.

It’s a routine than never gets old.  Occasionally the ghost of Captain Hook makes an entrance played by Ross Petty who is returning to play one of his most beloved villains. He too knows how to play the audience and get boos out of them.

“Did you miss me?” he sneers at them and they boo. And he smiles back and them and they boo louder.

There are topical jokes about government funding to the arts; the lack of children’s medicine on pharmacy shelves, lots of puns and groaner jokes. It’s a mix of the tried, true and familiar. Audiences love the chance to interact, boo, talk back with earnest and to be insulted in a good-hearted way.

Michael Gianfrancesco has designed vibrantly colourful sets; Ming Wong’s costumes are festive, and Jareth Li’s lighting is dazzling. Cameron Davis has created lots of projections that are neon in colour. It’s directed at a fast pace by Tracey Flye who also co-choreographs it with Jennifer Mote.

For this farewell production, Ross Petty has his company of stalwarts such as Eddie Glen who plays Smee. Eddie Glenn is always jolly, impish, a teaser and who really knows that Mrs. Hook is a terrible person and tries to thwart her. Sara-Jeanne Hosie plays Mrs. Hook.  Sara-Jeanne Hosie has played the villain in other Ross Petty shows when he decided to take a year off playing the villain. She is clever, knows how to play the audience for boos and her timing is impeccable.

Dan Chameroy also returns to play the loveable Plumbum who has always got a cheeky answer for everything. Plumbum has a huge blonde wig, garish makeup that is askew and wears high-top sneakers. As Plumbum, Dan Chameroy is gloriously funny.

Of course Ross Petty is the best villain you ever saw—both dashing and forbidding and always funny. He plays the audience effortlessly. Relishing every boo. Smiling broader when the boos get louder.

These Ross Petty shows are also great for showcasing new talent. So we have Alex Wierzbicki playing a lovely, charming Peter. He’s earnest, concerned and accommodating. And Stephanie Sy who plays Wendy who becomes more responsible in Never Land than she was in the real world. Both Alex Wierzbicki and Stephanie Sy dance energetically and sing up a storm. The backup singers and dancers are also very talented.

It’s interesting that Ross Petty didn’t put himself in the centre as the villain for this final production. I think he is giving back to those who have supported him for years. As I noted, Sara-Jeanne Hosie was the villain for a few years and it’s a tip of the hat to have her back for the final production. Eddie Glen has been in these shows for years and is a favourite. And Dan Chameroy is a hoot as Plumbumb.  So, Peter’s Final Flight! is a family affair of talented people coming back for Ross Petty’s final production.

Ross Petty gave a heartfelt speech about how doing these shows were the best adventure of his life. You believe him. Many families grew up over the years with his pantomime shows at this time of years. They in turn took their kids who then took their kids. They all seemed to be in that audience when I saw it. Ross Petty and his wacky shows will be missed.

Ross Petty Productions Presents:

Plays Until: Jan. 7, 2023

Running Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (1 intermission)

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