Zero Stars alert – Peter Pan El Musical

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Many thanks to “Arthur” for alerting us to a new inductee into the Zero Stars Hall of Fame.

No surprises for guessing either the show or the reviewer:

An awfully big misadventure, this Spanish mauling of JM Barrie’s masterpiece flies into the Garrick and crash-lands belly up. There are no survivors. Such is the mind-boggling awfulness of this family show, performed in Spanish with inept English surtitles, that you wish the Lost Boys had not shot at Wendy but taken aim at this great white elephant and finished it off instead. My youngest daughter – a stoic survivor of such theatrical catastrophes as Fireman Sam Live on Stage and The Man in the Iron Mask – refused point blank to return with me after the interval.

Full review here.

Incidentally, we had been tipped off about the awfulness of Peter Pan El Musical by several people, professional critics among them, who have entreated us to go witness this theatrical disaster.

For the record we would just like to point out that the Whingers are not theatrical ambulance chasers. Oh, OK, we are. But we do not actively seek to spend our precious (Phil certainly can’t have many left) evenings watching bad theatre . Although admittedly writing about them is certainly much more enjoyable.

16 Responses to “Zero Stars alert – Peter Pan El Musical”


  1. Wow. I’m not surprised that Lyn Gardner hated this (far too pedestrian for her tastes), but I didn’t think it was *that* bad…

  2. Bacteria Says:

    Can it be as bad as the National’s production a decade ago? Low point then was Ian McKellen’s Hook turning to the audience and lasciviously declaring: “I always have an opening for a Lost Boy…”

    King Leer indeed.

  3. Jordi Says:

    Soy español, vivo en Londres, aplaudo la idea de traer el musical, me gusta ir al teatro, pero ya estaba aburrido de escuchar siempre lo mismo, los mismos musicos en musicales distintos, la musica es gravada si, de la misma forma que muchos decorados de los grandes musicales son proyectados en Video, he visto el musical y me ha parecido entretenido y energico, por suerte siempre me gustan las cosas que a los criticos no les gustan. Entiendo que hay un musical español con casi 50 personas trabajando en west end, y eso si es lo que no gusta a los ingleses y a los criticos, que tienen blindada su zona con grandes y dificiles contratos. Lo he visto en España y lo he visto de nuevo en Londres y he entendido porque los ingleses trabajan en Londres pero vienen a divertirse a España.


  4. Babelfished so that the more intoxicated can follow:

    I am Spanish, alive in London, applaud the idea to bring the musical comedy, likes to go to the theater, but already I was boring to listen, always the same such musicos in different musical comedies, the musica is taxed if, of the same form that many scenery of the great musical comedies is projected in Video, I have seen the musical comedy and it has seemed me entertained and energico, luckily always like the things that to the criticos they do not like. I understand that end is a Spanish musical comedy with almost 50 people working in west, and that if is what it does not please to the English and the criticos, that they have armored his zone with great and dificiles contracts. I have seen it in Spain and I have seen it in London and I have understood again because the English work in London but they come to amuse itself to Spain.

    (And on a side note, why did none of the reviews mention the lack of a live orchestra?)


  5. Google Translate puts it thus:

    I am Spanish, I live in London, I welcome the idea of bringing the music, I like to go to the theater, but it was always boring to hear the same thing, the same musicians in different musical, the music is taxed if, in the same way that many decorations of the great musicals are projected video, I saw the musical and I have found entertaining and energico, fortunately I always like things that the critics do not like. I understand that there is a Spanish musical with nearly 50 people working on west end, and that if it is not like what the British and the critics, who have shielded their area with large or difficult contracts. What I have seen in Spain and I have seen again in London and I understood that the British working in London but fun to come to Spain.

    We’re none the wiser really.

  6. Sean Says:

    How can it not be on for a tenner at lastminute.com yet? I can find no offers for this, is anyone actually going?

    As a devoted and mad fan of the musical stage I have sat through Murderous Instincts and Behind the Iron Mask amongst others. And I have to say that in particular BTIM gave the audience an immense amount of pleasure, it was like the blitz all over again, thrown in the deep end, a communal disaster to overcome. I was actually sick with laughter; it really was that entreatingly risible. Sheila Ferguson is one of the all time greats.

    Can’t wait to see Peter Pan, perhaps this Sunday matinee if it lasts.

  7. Sean Says:

    By the way, who the hell was the Spanish woman writing for, those West End devotees who speak her native tough to that level will not be very easy to find I should imagine.

    Why is the Woman in Black having a Japanese cast for a week, what has it to do with their anniversary (wouldn’t ‘stars’ from the past be more appropriate?). Will I now have to attend TWIB as cutting edge ‘World Theatre’? Is it the new Ninigawa? What is a Haiku?


  8. When’s the Japanese “Woman in Black” cast going on again?

    re: “How can it not be on for a tenner at lastminute.com yet? I can find no offers for this, is anyone actually going?”

    I got my ticket for free…a certain private organisation was making them available during previews. I suspect that with the reviews, they be offering them again.

    Honestly, this is worth a tenner in my book. It’s fun, there are some good people in the cast, and I like cheesy pop songs songs (but I also go gaga for The Three O’Clock). It does have that panto-lite feel to it, though.


  9. Hmm for £10 it might be worth going to see it…

  10. SB Says:

    I went to see this tonight and although it wasn’t great, it wasn’t as bad as the critics are making out. I’ve studies Spanish (and theatre althouth not usually together) for 8 years so luckily didn’t need to use the subtitles too much, which I certainly think helped. The person I went to see it with didn’t particularly enjoy it so taking a wild guess I’d say that considering the standing ovation given at the end of tonight’s performance consisted almost soley of Spaniards that the language barrier had some baring on the reception? I got the tickets from lastminute.com for £20 including tapas and wine at La Tasca (which, might I add was very nice and well worth the money!)
    The subtitles didn’t translate everything and were often in front or behind the spoken text. Forewarning: slight audience participation so beware! Also, there was far too much smoke from the machine before the show had even started and the first ten minutes was really more of a laser light show than a theatrical performance (but still, very impressive).
    I’d translate the previous review (the one in Spanish- not written by me, obviously) but the translation websites seem to have got the gist pretty well!

  11. Josh Says:

    PLEASE GO AND SEE IT. PLEASE.
    Please go. And see it.🙂


  12. The translation websites did a much better job of that posting than the surtitles do of the show.

    It’s not necessarily that the show itself is bad. I mean, the cavils about daft-looking sets hardly have much purchase when 95% of the Peter Pans we see are pantos. I could happily live without the device of doubling Mama darling as a storyteller of the old-fashioned Auntie Mu kind, constantly harping on about the magic of childhood with the fixed grin of a Children Of God love-bomber… but on the page, Barrie is often even more of a presence. (Mama Darling is not to be confused with Nana Darling the dog, who doubles as an Allied Carpets warehouse.) And true, the near-opening streets-of-London number does unintentionally suggest that, as Mama says, the Darlings were “a very unusual family” because they pimped a large stable of Edwardian whores and rough-trade urchins, but at least none of them has a Dick van Dyke accent.

    It’s the manner of the bringing it over that goes plonk in every conceivable respect. Now, the producer has already tried to spin the show’s reception as a kind of xenophobia, as critics banding together to protect their own cultural and business interests… to which I can best respond, critics WHAT together to protect their own WHAT? It’s not that the show is foreign, it’s that it so spectacularly misjudges everything about the business of transfer.

    The programme (only partially translated, by the way) gushes about returning to the land that created Peter Pan (hah, if they were really interested in that I’d like to see it play the Glasgow Empire). So OK, a few seconds’ cursory research would reveal that peter Pan is now largely a panto… the kind of show that is often children’s first experience of theatre. All very well and good, so has anyone thought about how this might connect with a surtitled show? Are kids going to be prepared to read surtitles? Are they going to be able to read?

    And, once they’ve read these magnificently garbled examples, are they going to be able to make any sense of them? There are times when criticising surtitles is as petty as giggling at a poorly translated white-goods manual; yes, the programme here refers to the Lost Childrens and whatnot, but big deal. But surtitles aren’t something you tack on cursorily… well, obviously they are in this case, but that’s wrong, is my point. Those translation errors combine with atrocious timing and phasing (so that, without extensive prior knowledge, you can’t often connect the captions with what is, was or will be going on a few minutes either side of the moment in question), and an approach to punctuation that would make Gertrude Stein smile approvingly and Lynne Truss haemorrhage, and you’re left with examples like “There’s no badnes that can win a tree”. Er, sorry?

    OK, so it’s a family show and a musical, so let’s have family-friendly music… like FM rock. Er, no. And Captain Hook is so proud of his long high notes that he sounds positively heavy-metal. (Which gives birth to a whole new concept that I’ve already copyrighted…)

    So no, not bias, but reasonable expectations of genre and above all of professionalism in thoughtful transfer. ot prejudice, but very much post-judice. and since, in any case, the mere attention given to the London production has secured them several further transfers around the world, they’re crying all the way to the second star on the left and straight on till morning.

  13. Pep Says:

    Well. I am from Barcelona and I can assure you that there are here better musicals than this desaster. I saw this musical in Spain and I agree with the reviewers. It’s a very bad musical with lack of quality in almost every aspect (songs, voices…) but in the concept itself of the musical.

  14. Lilo Says:

    I saw peter pan the musical last weekend with two mates and we had a great time. yes it was cheesy but it was well worth our money and the actors were acted enthusiasticly despite there being only 25 people in the whole theatre.
    shame the crtics had such a great effect in deterring people.

  15. Pete Says:

    I took a biggish group of school kids to see it at a matinee. There was a reasonably impressive enthusiastic audience for a Wednesday, and the kids loved it. All gave it at least 10 out of 10.

  16. Mr Mac Says:

    “at least 10 out of 10” high praise indeed haha!


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