Review: Peter Pan at the Grand Opera House is a fun, modern look at a classic tale

Mrs Smee (May McFettridge) and Captain Hook (David Bedella) at the Grand Opera House pantomime performance of Peter Pan Picture: Aaron McCracken/GOH


Peter Pan

Grand Opera House


FROM RHI boilers to Brexit and even a few quips about Belfast boxer Carl Frampton, this year's pantomime at the Grand Opera House packs a lot of punches (get it?). It never really feels like Christmas until you've been to the pantomime and Peter Pan went down a treat.

While the tale of the boy who never grows up may be well known, when it features May McFettridge, you know it's going to be different. The panto queen, played by John Linehan, returns for the 28th consecutive year as May Smee. And although some of the jokes may have been the same – especially the ones about the lucky people from Ballyhackamore or Lagmore who get the front-row seats – the audience was laughing out loud in an instant.

Also starring former Emmerdale and Coronation Street actress Claire King as Mimi the Mermaid, Mikey Jay-Heath as Peter Pan and American television and musical stage star David Bedella as a fantastic Captain Hook, the fairytale story proved a hit.

With a flying Peter Pan taking Wendy, Michael and John on a magical voyage to Neverland, complete with music from Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit along the way, the show was buoyed by the appearance of impressionist Paul Burling as Starkey.

As one of the stand-out stars for me, he seamlessly moved from mimicking one celebrity to another – everyone from Simon Cowell, to Ant and Dec and Jeremy Clarkson and then an entire segment dedicated to favourite cartoon characters. He was superb.

While Starkey kept the kids happy, there were plenty of jokes for the adults too, with hot topics of Northern Ireland life, from politics to boxing.

The villain of the show, Captain Hook, was spectacular, combining all the qualities of a panto baddie with a fantastic theatre voice. It was obvious why Bedella is a double Olivier Award-winner.

But one of the highlights of this panto was its incredibly realistic 3D show. From the packed theatre, the audience was transported underwater into a magical, and at times terrifying, adventure.

The first half lacked the punch of the second, but Peter Pan is a fun, modern look at a classic tale that has all the elements you are looking for in a Christmas pantomime.

:: Until January 14; tickets from

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