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Peter Pan Goes Wrong

A group of people on a stage

Description automatically generatedEllie Morris, Jonathan Sayer, Charlie Russell,Henry Shields, Henry Lewis and Matthew Cavendish  (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)



Peter Pan Goes Wrong

By Fern Siegel


“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” The quote is courtesy of character actor Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed. But Peter Pan Goes Wrong, now on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, makes comedy look effortless.


It’s funny, thanks to split-second timing and the unintentional destruction of a much-loved classic, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The mayhem is due to The Mischief Company, familiar to anyone who has seen The Play Goes Wrong, now off-Broadway at New World Stages.


The fun begins even before the play starts, as the actors break the fourth wall and interact with the audience.


The premise: The Cornley Youth Theatre, “real near-professional actors” working with kids, is staging Peter Pan. Simon Scullion’s set opens in Bloomsbury at the turn of the last century. The Darling family, including their dog Nana (Robert Grove) and three children, Wendy (Sandra Wilkinson), John (Dennis Tyde) and Michael (Max Bennett), are saying goodnight to their parents.


Wendy mentions they have captured a boy’s shadow, a notion dismissed by her loving but Edwardian father (Chris Bean, who doubles as Captain Hook).


One night, Peter Pan (Greg Tannahill), the boy who refuses to grow up, sneaks into the nursery, along with Tinker Bell (Annie Twilloil), and invites the children to join him in Neverland. Happy thoughts lift them into the air — in theory. But this is Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which means every possible mishap will occur. The tech

woes, the back-stage antics, the prop man forever wandering the stage, the over-the-top theatrical moments — it’s all part of the elaborate snafus that make the show so entertaining.


The talented troupe, stars of the Goes Wrong Show, now streaming in the U.S., are terrific, even when they milk the laughs. And they do. Some bits could be 


A group of people dancing

Description automatically generated with low confidence

The ensemble of Peter Pan Goes Wrong. (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)


shortened, but the overarching sense of well-timed comic anarchy, aided by guest star Neil Patrick Harris as The Narrator, is sheer delight.


Co-written by Mischief members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a physical comedy that tells Barrie’s beloved story in brushstrokes. The unexpected accidents augment the adventure. We get all the key plot points, along with crazy off-stage drama that heightens the fun.


The show is less about Peter Pan, the boy who won’t grow up and more about a theatrical company that strains to get it mounted.


The production is all of a piece — even the notes in the Playbill are funny. A memoriam notes the death of Nadia, the crocodile imported from Kenya, who burst free from her shipping crate, attacked her handlers and roamed the Cornley University quad for four hours — before being killed by armed police. “Our thoughts are with Nadia and all those injured on that dreadful day.”


Peter Pan Goes Wrong is directed by Adam Meggido, with costumes by Roberto Surace, lighting by Matt Haskins, sound by Ella Wahlström, original music by Richard Baker and Rob Falconer and wig/hair and make-up design by Tommy Kurzman.


All are well served by an agile cast that can portray hammy actors and sweet amateurs with wacky style. Chris Bean and Henry Lewis take on multiple roles, as does Nancy Zamit, who changes costumes in nannoseconds in a frenetic production that makes Wrong right.


Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Ethel Barrymore - 243 W. 47 St.

Running time: 2 hours and 5 minutes


Through July 9