Peter Pan (New 2008 UK Musical) Stiles & Drewe (of Mary Poppins fame.)
Composer: George Stiles
Lyricist: Anthony Drewe
Anthony Drewe/George Stiles
This recording is of the 2008 Birmingham England cast. It also played the Prince Theater in Philadelphia.
There are many times that a cast CD makes me wish I had seen the actual production. This is one of those occasions!
Peter Pan is all too often written off as a children's treat, or worse given a smug, "edgy" adaptation to disassociate it from its roots. The Birmingham Repertory / West Yorkshire Playhouse production by Stiles, Drewe and Hall nimbly avoids these pitfalls to produce a book musical of the perfect depth of intelligence and clarity.
Bright lyrics and some inventive music hang well from a strongly constructed tale. From the rousing opening number on, it is clear that these composers have the experience and inventiveness to provide a fresh and unique angle on the story. The recurrent "Just Beyond The Stars" is a song Streisand could do damage with, while Wendy's logic that Pan can't remain a child because he will "grow too tall" is a single example of the thought that has gone into the characterizations and narrative drive of the show.
For every character and group is perfectly drawn. Peter himself is perfectly defined by the "Cleverness Of Me." The Lost Boys gang in full bravado are just short of an ASBO, while the pirates are the funniest bunch of evil cutthroats since Sweeney Todd. Captain Hook may get all "Les MisÚrables" for a moment, but the beautifully timed act 2 opener "Look Back Through A Rose Tinted Eyepatch," and later "A Pirate With A Conscience" (with Shakespeare thrown in) keep this hooked maniac on track.
Strong vocal performances delight throughout, notably the ladies - Kirsty Hoiles and Amy Lennox - and the comedic timing of Martin Callaghan as Smee. Along with the ensemble all sound perfect on this detailed and, incidentally, well produced and presented recording.
If there are faults, they are mostly with the pacing, which may pass un-noticed on stage but feel a little uncomfortable on CD. "Build A House" is clearly a visual number, judging by the lyric, while the finale "There's Always Tomorrow" has the right sentiment but perhaps lacks the "button" to turn the song into the triumphant ending the show deserves.
Sometimes it is a shame that London's West End is seen as being unable to support a musical perceived as "for children" outside the Christmas or Summer Vacation period. On the strength of this disc, I can only hope somebody would be willing to take that chance.
"The contemporary score is timeless and tuneful." --The Independent
"World class." --Yorkshire Evening Post
"A fantastic flight of fancy." --Coventry Telegraph
1. There's Something in the Air Tonight
2. Just Beyond the Stars
3. Tinkerbell & Peter Pan's Arrival
4. Never Land
5. The Lost Boys Gang
6. Good Old Captain Hook
7. Build a House
8. The Cleverness of Me
9. Crocodile / Tiger Lily / Siren Song
10. When I Kill Peter Pan
11. Look Back Through a Rose-Tinted Eyepatch
12. Just Beyond the Stars (reprise)
13. One Big Adventure
14. The Cleverness of Me (reprise)
15. When I Kill Peter Pan / Good Old Captain Hook (reprise)
16. One Big Adventure
17. A Pirate With a Conscience
18. Never Land (reprise)
19. The Fight
20. Just Beyond the Stars (reprise 2)
21. There's Always Tomorrow