Adventures in Neverland

by | Feb 26, 2024

By Melanie Thomas

On a beautiful sunny day at Central Park in Malvern I was fortunate to attend the first day of Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s children’s show ‘Adventures in Neverland’. Directed by Carl Whiteside, who is strongly experienced in children’s theatre, has created an engaging and youthful 55 minute show for both young and old alike.

Surrounded by lots of families, the in-the-round theatre was able to capture the attention of all audiences from the very beginning. Starting with a call and response, this technique immediately drew the children into the show and asked them to engage by looking for ‘Captain Hand’.

Full to the brim with jokes, puppets, musical numbers and interactivity, including pop culture references for the adults to have a giggle themselves, without being overly cringey or pushing for laughs. The show naturally flowed through the text, improvisation with audience callouts, and simple catchy songs. It was an especially great introduction for young children who have not had the chance to experience the wonders of theatre.

Maintaining energy throughout the show, the whole cast were well matched for entertaining children and getting them engaged. Perfectly structured, every 20 minutes the audience were encouraged to stand up and learn some very simple choreography to dance along with the cast. As I looked around, mostly adults were standing up and joining in, but the children were still entertained by the singing and dancing.

Standout performer was Joanna Haliday as Smee and the main puppeteer in ‘Neverland’. She was captivating and had the perfect wholesome acting style to draw everyone in. Sweet and genuine, she excelled in just-prefect guileless expressions and over the top exuberance.

Shanu Shobti as ‘Tink’ was a lovely accompaniment to the play and frivolity, with a beautiful singing voice.

Tref Gare, Cassidy Dunn, and Jackson Peele brought the childlike wonder to ‘Neverland’ with honourable characterisations and frivolity.

Being in Central Park, it was accessibly friendly for prams and pushers, wheelchairs and ambulant users. Melbourne Shakespeare Company also included a social story emailed directly with the purchase of tickets. Friendly staff explained the routes that the cast would be making during the show and offered suggestions of places to sit for different visibilities. With the very evident need for this style of accessibility to attend the Arts, every theatre company should adopt this practice, as MSC are.

A fun, inviting, and sweet show is a must for young families to sit together, have a picnic, laugh, dance and sing along with the cast of ‘Adventures in Neverland’! Don’t miss this wholesome and inviting experience – on until 10 March.

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