Wednesday, 12 December 2018

REVIEW: Snow White at the London Palladium

The London Palladium for the third year running stages a spectacular Christmas variety show with the huge cast of performers linking their acts loosely with a pantomime story, Snow White, this year. It is an expensive ticket but a wonderful cast, elaborate and colourful costumes and the well lit front portal beautifully frames the production. It is a remarkable celebration of the venue and the performers who have trod the boards over the years. The show opens with a stage full of the twenty strong Ensemble singing "At the Palladium" to the tune of the Lambeth Walk with Danielle Hope as Snow White and Act 2 opens with "Here at the Palace" with dancers led by the amazing Charlie Stemp as Prince Harry. Gary Wilmot returns as the Dame, Mrs Nora Crumble and updates last year's "Tube show" into an extraordinary list of all the stars that have played the Palladium. 

As with Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1950's and 1960's) , Live from the Palladium (1980's ) and in the heyday of its pantomimes (1948 to 1987) the show bill is packed with big names who each get their chance to do their turn. Top of the Bill is Julian Clary as The Man in the Mirror with an astonishing ever more elaborate set of costumes that restrict his movement but as in previous years he delivers his unique brand of adult comedy. Opposite him this year is another star making her pantomime debut, Dawn French as Queen Dragonella who although she calls for boos is too well loved to be seen as evil, and so plays the part as herself having a laugh. 

The main comedy is provided by Paul Zerdin, who returns with his ventriloquist dummy Sam, as Muddles. He is a class act, although it is very similar to last year but seeing Sam skating across the stage or sitting alone on a bench still provides show highlights. 

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are shoe horned into the show as Snow White's dead parents and perform two excellent Strictly Come Dancing routines to the delight of their fans. Also dropped in explicitly into the show are the Palladium Pantoloons, a four man acrobatic troop doing a standard routine over a vaulting horse although Clary, Wilmot and Stemp are all good enough sports to all join in. 

The other returning star is Nigel Havers playing this year the understudy. He is also a great sport and makes a series of spectacular entrances with hardly any lines to say! Would love to have seen him actually understudy a scene!

The seven dwarfs are led by Prof., played by Ben Goffe but are much underused
in the show with none of the usual scenes of them working in the mines or in their house retained in the show. Everyone seems to know where Snow White is throughout the show and this underlines the fact that the Producers have made any real plot superfluous.

This is a glamorous spectacular show worthy of the Palladium and a four star rating but it is not Pantomime as we know and will see all around communities’ theatres at Christmas. These are a true family experiences aimed simultaneously at three generations and are often young children’s first live theatre. I hope next year the Palladium will adjust its content to this wider audience despite its obvious success with the adult market.

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Royal Circle, Row G | Price of Ticket: £89
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