A star-studded line up will bring JM Barrie’s magical story of Peter Pan to life in gigantic proportions for a Christmas panto spectacular at Leeds first direct arena.
Peter Pan - The Arena Adventure stars actor and Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp as ultimate baddie Captain Hook and stand-up comic and BBC Two’s Mock the Week panellist Milton Jones as his simple-minded right-hand man Mr Smee.
Matt Knight, of the band Iron Sun which was a semi-finalist in the BBC show Let It Shine, plays the role of the free-spirited young boy Peter Pan.
The production - which features a 100-strong cast including Cirque performers and Irish dancers - will descend on the city for three days, from December 21-23, in a tour of some of the biggest stages in the country.
Ramping up the traditional panto experience, the swashbuckling show also includes a seven-meter long animatronic crocodile, a life-size Jolly Roger Galleon, which sails around the arena in front of a 10,000 galloon water wall and the highest human Peter Pan flight ever staged.
The all-star cast were in town this afternoon for a photo call at the city’s arena, where Martin Kemp - who first played the role last year - told the Yorkshire Evening Post the show will be like no other Christmas panto.
“When they first came to me and told me about it and said how big this show was going to be, I couldn’t quite take it in, but then in rehearsals and starting to do the show, it was this ginormous production.”
He added: “It’s not a Christmas show you would usually see. It’s so much fun. This is an immersive experience, where you have 6,000 kids screaming and shouting. You can see how much they enjoy it. It’s the only time I’ve ever been booed at and smiled at.”
He added: “I’ve been to Leeds a few times - I’ve done a couple of shows here in the past. But this arena is obviously new and it’s a beautiful place. It’s going to work a treat in here.”
Comedian Milton is more used to performing alone with a microphone in his stand-up shows but said he’s excited about doing something so different.
“I haven’t even done any ordinary panto and this is no ordinary panto - it’s an arena spectacular. So I’m straight in at the top. I’m looking forward to it.”
He said he expects the show will go down well with a Leeds audience, who he says are always up for a laugh, judging by his stand-up gigs here.
“People go out on a weekend to have a good time, there are lots of students, lots of clubs. People have a good time regardless. There’s nothing worse than indifference in an audience. Down south people tend to cross their arms and are harder to impress but up north, people are going out for the evening, having a few drinks and have a good time regardless. I always enjoy that interaction.”
Tickets for Peter Pan – The Arena Adventure are on sale now. Visit www.firstdirectarena.com.