Returning for the third year, the London Palladium Pantomime delivers exactly what its audience wants. More TV stars than you can shake a stick at, huge colourful costumes, singing and dancing. It’s big budget Panto and for many people in the audience, their one theatre trip of the year.

Dame Betty Barnum and her daughter Goldilocks’ circus is under threat from an evil rival circus owner and, with the help of their madcap circus friends, they’re battling to rescue their Big Top from ruin. Will they succeed?

The cast comprises Paul O’Grady as Baron Von Savage, Matt Baker as Joey the Clown, season regulars Julian Clary as The Ringmaster, Paul Zerdin as Silly Billy, Nigel Havers as Daddy Bear and Gary Wilmot as Dame Betty Barnum, Lauren Stroud as Baby Bear, Janine Duvitski as Mummy Bear and Sophie Isaacs in the title role.

The show is well cast with Julian Clary worth the ticket price alone, for his hilarious performance with show-stopping costumes. Matt Baker was a pleasant surprise to see him back flipping, unicycling and walking the tightrope, showing there is more to him than just The One Show sofa. Janine Duvitski has a very small role and apart from a few ‘swinging’ jokes and mentions of ‘Benidorm’ she doesn’t really have much to do which is a shame. Gary Wilmot really impresses with his singing voice in this show, a musical mash up of theatre songs and Sophie Isaacs (who also has a very small role, despite being the title character) spends most of the show introducing the variety acts and being (lovingly) mocked for being a Musical Theatre performer but she does it all with grace and is wonderful.

I guess the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a rather short one. Girl stumbles across an empty cottage, eats the porridge and falls asleep in a bed, only to be confronted by a family of bears when she wakes up. That’s kind of it in terms of plot and so it has had to be padded out with a circus story to fill two and a half hours. In the show they are auditioning acts to perform in the circus which then becomes a ‘Britains Got Talent Live’ type show of variety acts from around the world.

Internationally renowned illusionist Phil Hitchcock, The Skating Medini (Asia and Dylan Medini) – a dynamic high-speed roller-skating act from one of Italy’s oldest circus families, and Europe’s youngest stunt rider Peter Pavlov and the ‘Globe of Speed’. They are all brilliant acts and whilst I might usually say that theatre and even pantomime isn’t really the place to have variety acts – in this production it does work well and is a sign of the times for what audiences want to see.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears is everything an audience could ask for and for a mostly ‘non-theatre regular’ crowd, it went down a storm and was a fun night out. Not my personal cup of tea but I can’t really fault it!

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Paul Coltas

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