***** 5 Stars
“The greatest Panto in all Pantoland! “
Last Year the company of Pantoland at the Palladium were able to complete just 6 performances before covid restrictions forced the curtain to fall. Director and Producer Michael Harrison clearly felt there was unfinished business for this production and has brought it back and re-tooled it to encompass an augmented cast and being allowed to throw special effects galore into the show and my word, has he struck gold with this unique celebration of the last 6 years of creating panto at the palladium as well as celebrating the masters of the genre that built the palladium panto to where it is now.
This production is nothing short of a Masterclass of pantomime, this panto reprises moments from Cinderella, Dick Whittington, Snow White and Goldilocks and three bears and adds some new material in a glorious display of pantos past, present and future.
Global pop superstar Donny Osmond makes his pantomime debut, but he knows the Palladium well, he doesn’t feel shoehorned into the production as he has a pedigree in musical theatre as well as being the prince of pop and idol to a generation of fans. His voice is warm and joyful throughout. His fans lap up the “Osmond’s” medley he delivers accompanied by what must be a budget busting pyro display!
Palladiums regular Team Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Gary Wilmott and Nigel Havers all return and are joined by Jac Yarrow returning from last year and Sophie Isaacs (from Goldilocks) also coming back to the hallowed stage of Argyle Street.
This really is a show about paying tribute to the venue, the overture by the Orchestra is the Classic Sunday Night at the London Palladium and sets the bar high, that is matched by the incredible talent of Donny Osmond playing the wizard of pantomime r as he belts out “Finding Pantoland” (lyrics rewritten to the tune of Finding Neverland) its obvious the cast much like the audience are glad to be in a full theatre once more. Gary Wilmot is next up in his Dames Frock he delivers several wonderful moments the best of which is his tribute to the London Underground that names every single station on the network that was updated to include new stations opened since Dick Whittington Closed!.
Julian Clary is in the form of his life; the innuendo laden comedy has laughter ringing around the building he also gets to parade some of the best of Hugh Durrant eye popping costumes from the last 5 productions. Clary is master of his craft his ability to work the audience whilst knowing how far to push the outrageousness is epic.
Nigel Havers does exactly what he does best, perform out of his skin in ever more outrageous costumes whilst continuing the schtick of the previous years of simply wanting a role to play and watching him work with Julian it clear there is genuine affection between them.
Paul Zerdin and Little Sam deliver something for everyone, Zerdin must be the great Ventriloquist act in the world. Its a childlike charm that also captures the adults when needed is the very epitome of Pantomime.
Jac Yarrow is utterly charming and makes a marvellous leading man to Isaacs Leading lady. There is also a wonderful moment in the “12 days of Christmas” when Nigel Havers rips down a back cloth to reveal the cast in an off moment, it appears Mr Yarrow likes to parade around in his dreamcoat!
Speciality acts are back on stage this year with the World-Famous Tiller Girls bringing high kicking choreography to the stage and “Spark Fire Dance “delivering an awe-inspiring routine using pyrotechnics its truly sets the stage a blaze.
Those boys at Twins FX also get to return this year and add their touch to an Aladdin sequence and shows just what they can do with A Carpet that brings gasps for the audience delighted by the panto magic.
The most touching moment in the entire show comes with Osmond performing the sketch “The Great Clowns of Pantomime” which sees the posters on the proscenium arch lit up in a fitting tribute to the many stars who are no longer with us, the sense of loss is palpable as we have seen Bobby Ball, Des O’Connor and Dame Barbara Windsor to name but a few to leave us in recent times.
Pantoland at the Palladium brings Tears and Laughter in equal measure not just for the cast but also the backstage and production team. This show has the absolute best including outstanding musical arrangements by Gary Hind, faultless lighting by Ben Cracknell and on point sound design by Matt Peploe all on Ian Westbrooks Glittering “Cinderella” set.
Pantoland at the Palladium is a unique celebration of not only the artistry and genre of Pantomime but the Venue itself, this will never move round the country and with Michael Harrison confirming that 2022 will see a return to the Fairy tales of panto (no word yet on which title) you must be quick to get a ticket to a show that is truly the greatest Panto in all Pantoland!
Crossroads Pantomimes Present Pantoland at the Palladium, The London Palladium, runs until Sunday 9thJanuary 2022, For tickets go to: https://www.palladiumpantomime.com