Pantomime – an under rated art form

People all over the world have various traditions in the lead up to Christmas to get them into the festive spirit.

One big one is ice skating (read about my experience here), another is Christmas markets and the third is going to see a show. For me the shows fall into roughly four groups:

  1. Pantomime
  2. Ballet (usually the Nutcracker)
  3. Plays (a Christmas Carol)
  4. any of the above on ice

Pantomime is one of my favourite types of show. Google defines it as “a theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas”.

They’ve hit the nail on the head. Pantos are light, fun and frivolous. I love a good innuendo and the humour that shows like The Simpsons use with levels, to entertain all ages.

Every year, I search for a great panto, with a good cast, good story and easy location, which is a lot harder to find than you’d think. Cinderella at the London Palladium boasted an incredible cast; Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary, Amanda Holden and Lee Mead to name a few. The website for the show also proclaims it to be “a lavish and spectacular production”… I bought tickets straight away.

You may or may not remember that in Christmas passed they would air pantomimes on television. These pantomimes often featured the stars above so I knew I was guaranteed a treat. Also the press pictures of the characters gave glimpse into the sequinned wonder of the show.

On the 23rd December, Matt and I braved Oxford Street’s last minute shoppers, to take our seats for a matinee show. After buying a programme and tiara (naturally) we took our pews and awaited curtain up.

The costumes were  imaginative and numerous. I think Julian had about 10 costume changes each more extravagant than the last (he came in riding  a giant glittery shoe at one point). Cinderella’s rags turned to a ball gown as she spun around, and the wicked step mother’s outfits were gorgeous and screamed couture.

The production was amazing with the carriage flying over the audience, a car being driven on the stage and animatronic horses for starters. There were lots of sets and they were so detailed and well put together, it was as though it were real.

The songs had been tailored to the location and audience (I lost count of the amount of times the words Soho and Palladium were used. The only downside of the songs is that they seemed determined to pump up Amanda Holden’s part as Fairy Godmother, so she had about 3 to herself…a touch excessive. Some of the extra songs added nothing to the plot and it seemed a touch self indulgent.

Julian was the stand out star and his improv even had the rest of the cast in stitches. His flamboyance campiness and tongue in cheek humour gave the show energy and sparkle. Paul O’Grady was a statuesque evil step mother and plays a good villain, interestingly he managed to do good through the show by getting his favourite cause, Battersea Dogs Home in the programme and by having a mention written into the script!

Overall the show was a triumph and appealed to people of all ages. I laughed, a lot! I would definitely recommend grabbing tickets if you can as it’s running for another week or so.

me and matt.JPG



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