Review by: Paul Towers, 9/1/19
Snow White by Michael Harrison with Alan McHugh, David McGillivary, Dawn French , Julian Clary & Paul Zerdin
Original songs by Gary Hind
The London Palladium until 13 January 2019
“first class, top of the bill cast.”
Last year was my first pantomime visit to the prestigious London Palladium. Dick Whittington with Julian Clary et al was an unexpected pleasure with Clary’s near the knuckle double entendres in a supposedly family friendly production. Many at the time commented that this was maybe too adult for innocent children’s ears and I agree.
This year, in the tenuous guise of the story of Snow White the smut-meter has been turned up to full blast but, in the perfectly manicured hands of the master of the entendre (double or single), Julian gets away with even more while still not frightening either the horses or the few children in the auditorium.
Building on the success of this newly reintroduced annual tradition The Palladium (and by extension producers Qdos) have upped the budget, upped the star performers and have sold out virtually every performance. My visit on a cold and damp Wednesday matinee outside of school holidays had no seats available at all.
This Snow White takes extraordinary liberties with the traditional Grimm story but I don’t suppose anyone will bother complaining. All the requisite elements for traditional pantomime are there; Snow White, the wicked witch, the seven dwarves, the panto dame and lots of special effects and audience interaction.
Right from the start the producers have wisely jettisoned any thoughts of keeping to a narrative and gone instead for spectacular dancing and star turns from the headliners.
Julian Clary in the first of many outrageous outfits minces on as The Man In The Mirror (queue a Michael Jackson song) immediately destroying the entire premise of the story and opens the door for Dawn French’s evil witch, Dragonella (so named solely to justify a huge flying dragon towards the end of the first half!). Paul Zerdin and his puppet sidekicks get their time in the spotlight and this wonderful parade of traditional variety acts is rounded off with the inimitable Gary Wilmot as Dame and a superb feat of memory with a song listing virtually every performer from the Palladium’s past. Last year the running joke was that Nigel Havers was booked but had no role to play. This year he has a role, Julian Clary’s understudy! Cue lots of outrageously unsuitable costumes.
This first class, top of the bill cast are very well supported by a huge ensemble of singers and dancers who seem to change costume very five minutes. The sets are amazing with both cloths and sliding set pieces coming in and out and up and down at an alarming rate with lots of pyrotechnics.
Once again it is very obvious that the enormous budget for this show has been well spent on the stars and the costumes and the various headliners have really upped their games from last year and completely justify the £150 seat price for the best view from the stalls. Although the show runs til January 13th I doubt very much whether you can get a ticket now. Best book for the 2019 panto as soon as the tickets are released in the spring.