More of a variety show than a pantomime, this year’s spectacular Christmas show at the iconic Palladium in London takes things back to its roots, paying homage to the history of the building – with references to those who have graced the stage over the years, and posters from previous Christmas shows dotted around.
Hosted by 1970’s teen heartthrob Donny Osmond, the audience are taken through a variety of different performances, from song and dance, to camp Christmas fun, musical theatre, and ventriloquism. Donny is the heart of the show, showing that he can still sing and ooze charisma. There’s a sweet duet of his hit song ‘Puppy Love’, sung with puppet Sam, changing the title to ‘Puppet Love’.
The New Years Eve performance I saw had Donna, a sign language ‘signer’ performing all of the words in the show at the corner of the stage which was lovely to see and wonderful to see the cast include her in the show (including before Gary Wilmot sang a very fast song saying ‘good luck Donna’). Donny Osmond even signed along with her in some parts of the show, telling the audience that two of his brothers are deaf.
Julian Clary is once again phenomenal as the camp comedian, managing to perfectly blend adult innuendos with child friendly material. Nigel Havers hops on and off stage in ridiculous costumes, just to be berated and told to leave the stage by Julian Clary but he is a good sport for playing the fool. Gary Wilmot, who never disappoints on stage is once again a brilliant dame and young Musical Theatre stars Sophie Isaacs and Jac Yarrow return once again to the Palladium Christmas show but with seemingly rather little to do.
Choosing not to move in line with the times, the show pokes fun at Jac, mocking that Sophie Isaacs is ‘not his type’ and repeatedly referring to Sophie as being old (she’s 33). Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, even jokes with the audience seated in the balcony, suggesting they ‘jump’ – a joke that could easily go wrong.
Other performances in the show came from ‘Spark Fire Dance‘ and ‘The Tiller Girls‘ – both of which seemed shoehorned in and left me wondering if the show could have been done without them as they had such little stage time and weren’t even billed as performing on posters.
Pantoland at the Palladium is a big-budget show that will entertain adults and children of all ages. It’s not perfect but does what it says on the tin and is good family fun.
Reviewed by West End Wilma