CINDERELLA – Four Stars ****

imageMany years ago, the Palladium was the place to be for the annual Christmas panto, attracting big star names for an evening of light entertainment and music hall magic; pantomime producing giants QDOS bring pantomime home to the Palladium for the first time in nearly 30 years, with an experienced cast of showbiz favourites.

Stage and screen star Amanda Holden opens the show taking us to the not-so-far off village of Soho (where this panto is suitably set), before Julian Clary is brought onstage to sing about the area of London we all so dearly love (to the tune ‘Downtown’). The show continues in traditional pantomime style, weaving between traditional variety show style routines and a little bit of plot thrown in to keep the story moving along. Clary and co-star Paul O’Grady (as his alter ego Lily Savage) are the centre of the show, with enough sexual innuendos to have even the youngest of children questioning why Lea Mead’s Prince Charming is bowed down to Clary on one knee before his crotch.

Paul Zerdin’s ventriloquist acts bring some old school variety to the evening, earning the big laughs from the audience. Lea Mead and Natasha J. Barnes (in the title role) sing with gloriously Disney-esque beauty, whilst Nigel Havers occasionally runs on to dramatically project a few lines only to be swept offstage by Clary’s extravagant Dandini. Count Arthur Strong, Wendy Somerville and Suzie Chard complete the billing with lots of panto sparkle.

The Palladium is the only possible place you could see Amanda Holden floating above audience’s heads waving a magic wand, Paul O’Grady’s Lilly Savage and Julian Clary throwing sexual innuendos back and forth for two hours and tap dancing pumpkins sending Cinderella to the ball in a flying coach pulled by animatronic horses. An over the top evening of camp, funny and light entertainment, it’s good to see this Christmas tradition back in the heart of London for the festive period.

Review by Marcus Hubbard.

Tickets from £25
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