Review - Snow White starring Dawn French at the London Palladium
Nothing succeeds like excess and variety is the spice of life. These seem to be the governing principles behind the London Palladium pantos, a reinstated (and reinvigorated) Christmas tradition at this most celebrated of theatrical variety houses which for the last three years has brought them back here. It has just been confirmed that another three year annual booking has been made by Qdos Entertainment, the largest commercial panto providers in the land who spare no expense in offering the UK's single most jaw-droppingly spectacular pantomime here.
They've also cultivated a repertory feel to the company that gives it a reassuring familiarity, with returning headliner Julian Clary as a head-spinning bauble of illuminated glitter in the year's most outrageous costumes from Hugh Durrant. He is newly joined this year by another comedy giant Dawn French, who brings snarling good humour to the nominal baddie, Queen Dragonella.
They lead a cast of other regulars that include Gary Wilmot as the Dame (whose list song paying tribute to some of the famous names that have graced this very stage is yet another tour-de-force), hilarious ventriloquist Paul Zerdin (whose puppet creation Sam takes on a life of his own) and Nigel Havers (who makes the night's single most impressive entrance from the roof of the theatre).
Also returning for a second year is bright new West End star singer and dancer Charlie Stemp as the dashing Prince Harry of Hampstead, while Danielle Hope (previously seen on this stage as Dorothy in the stage version of The Wizard of Oz after winning the reality TV contest Over the Rainbow) as his love interest Snow White. That's before I've even mentioned the seven dwarfs who share the title with her.
And to make sure the variety cup really overflows, there's also a couple of speciality dances from Strictly Come Dancing's Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace as the otherwise somewhat underused King and Queen; and a quartet of tumbling acrobats, whom Charlie Stemp gamely joins in their routine.
The result is a riot of colour, camp and comedy, some of it inevitably a little blue thanks to Clary at his crisp and cutting best. Spectacular effects, from flying carriages to a massive dragon, put the seal on one of the single most entertaining and spectacular theatrical nights of the year. There will, I'm sure, be pantos with more heart, but none will astonish you quite as regularly.