WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: London Palladium
WHEN: 10/12 (matinee), runs to 15/1/17
Julian Clary plays Dandini, Prince Charming’s ‘right-hand man’ who has ‘handled many balls’.
- Read on for reasons including how this is the Palladium’s first panto for 30 years
Did our opening sentence raise a titter? If so you’ll be well-placed to appreciate Clary, the surprising star of the show, whose ever-more outrageous costumes are outmatched only by his entrance to a version of Petula Clark’s Downtown with the lyrics changed to a racier version entitled Soho.
We thought Clary had all the best lines, a selection of our favourites being (on surveying the audience): ‘Dorothy Perkins has been picked clean’ and (on his hapless sidekick Nigel Havers): ‘He’s not worked since The Charmer you know’.
Paul O’Grady does a fine job of channelling silent movie star Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard as the evil Baroness Hardup whose popularity can be measured in the strength of the audience’s vociferous booing.
Lee Mead is a strong Prince Charming with a version of one of his best-known songs Any Dream Will Do from Joseph proving an unexpected comic highlight thanks to some risqué interjections from Clary.
Natasha J Barnes, who found fame understudying Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl is well cast as Cinderella, and Amanda Holden proves what a musical star she is during a song involving most of the cast’s names when she’s pretending to be a cleaner.
No expense is spared with the production which a producer tells us before the show that is the first at the venue for three decades. The flying into the audience is especially good and as Clary reminds us during one special visual trick: ‘you don’t get that in Aladdin‘.
We’re not big fans of ventriloquists however and this panto loses a star because its seemingly impressive budget seems to be trying too hard to be all things to all people at the expense, perhaps, of some soul.
Clary’s turn as Dandini is a filthy riot which he carries off with a wink in a way that is always implied and would never offend a soul and is the best reason to see this.
However we still think Greenwich’s panto is London’s best and its theme (a child’s imagination can never be stolen) means its big heart rather than gigantic budget is how it will be best remembered.
- Picture via Facebook courtesy London Palladium. Tickets
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