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Christmas 2018

Snow White at The London Palladium

★★★★
‘JULIAN CLARY IS
A SUPERSTAR TURN!’

THE TIMES

★★★★
‘THE HOTTEST TICKET
IN TOWN!’

THE STAGE

★★★★★
‘JAW-DROPPINGLY SPECTACULAR’

MARK SHENTON,
LONDONTHEATRE

★★★★
‘THE WEST END’S BIG
PANTO IS IRRESISTIBLE’

THE TIMES

★★★★
‘VISUALLY RAVISHING…
INFECTIOUSLY FUNNY!’

EVENING STANDARD

★★★★
‘A RIOT OF COLOUR, FUN, CELEBRATION & FESTIVE CHEER!’

ATTITUDE

Dopey, Happy and Clary

Review: Snow White at the London Palladium, W1

The West End’s big panto is over the top but irresistible says Dominic Maxwell - The Times - ★★★★

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This third wildly entertaining Palladium panto is so stuffed with stars (a wicked Dawn French! A filthily funny Julian Clary!) and money-no-object sets and routines (tap-dancing polar bears! Gigantic flying wolves! Nigel Havers in his spangly suit hovering above the stalls!) that it barely even matters that they don’t force the whole Snow White side of things on us too insistently.

I mean, sure, they have hired seven dwarfs, one of whom gets tangled up in a fine slapstick-meets-acrobatics routine, none of whom sings “hi ho!” or any of that Disney stuff. And, yes, they have hired the excellent Danielle Hope to play Snow, but they have given her even less to do than her beau, Prince Harry of Hampstead, played by the equally excellent Charlie Stemp.

Really, though, the story is there to give just enough setting for the show’s variety-night treats. And that’s why I love Palladium pantos. They fling money at the stage, but also expertise, experience, a passion for the job. They have fun, but it never feels as if they are having more fun than we are. Clary’s own shows can’t always keep his shtick scintillating for two full hours. Here, playing the Man in the Mirror — donning a different gorgeously garish costume for each scene, firing out double entendres with single-minded élan, but playing off his co-stars with casual virtuosity — he’s a superstar.

And French? Still feeling her way into the role, but she’s already deploying her comic charisma to fine effect as she gives us the most likeable evil queen in panto history. She milks the boos, has fun in a tongue-twisting set piece — the sort of teasing pleasures that Michael Harrison’s lavishly larky productions are so good at providing — and when she does finally turn properly evil, in a mask, wielding an apple, she has got menace too. She’s a delight.

Showbiz is hard: in any other panto review I might have led on the casual virtuosity of the ventriloquist, Paul Zerdin, the terrific patter song by our Dame, Gary Wilmot, or on the skilfully self-effacing running joke that is Havers: “a poor man’s Jeremy Irons”, as Clary has it. There are two superb, sultry dances from Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, and I’m only just mentioning them now. And the sets! And the chorus choreography!

The perfect panto would tell a slightly tighter story, would guard against the way the in-jokes are starting to take over, would find more funny roles for women. Let’s celebrate what we’ve got, though: a series of irresistible set pieces. It’s an excessive show, certainly, but an excessive amount of fun too.

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Christmas 2017 - Dick Whittington

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Julian Clary pulls it off again in a smutty corker of a panto

Dick Whittington, London Palladium, review

The Telegraph - by Claire Allfree - 14th December 2017

A show called Dick Whittington starring Julian Clary? I think we can all guess what sort of comic mileage Clary might make out of that, and so it proves in the Palladium’s gloriously funny, not very family-friendly follow-up to last year’s Cinderella.

It contains more dick jokes than you can shake a cat at, and Clary once again reigns utterly supreme with a parade of exquisitely outlandish outfits and extremely smutty gags. 

Children may find themselves a bit short-changed, but with Clary – affecting throughout a lofty air of weary disdain – in full control, their parents certainly won’t.

‘Julian Clary is pantomime gold’

Dick Whittington review at the London Palladium

The Stage - by Paul Vale - December 14th 2017

The star of this gig, though, is Julian Clary. Playing the Spirit of The Bells, Clary is sheer pantomime gold, coasting through the plot with feigned indifference and his legendary, lethal and camp delivery. Clary has all the best gags and his sparring with Paige’s eye-rolling Queen is one of the highlights of a show that is packed with laughs.

Julian Clary has never had a better context for his smooth-talking smut than in this generous, ridiculous, big-budget spectacular.

Theatre review: Dick Whittington at the London Palladium, W1

The Times - Dominic Maxwell - December 15th 2017

Do they give knighthoods for services to family-friendly filth? Based on Julian Clary’s performance in this second annual London Palladium panto, they surely should. He’s a total joy.

And he has never had a better context for his smooth-talking smut than in this generous, ridiculous, big-budget spectacular.

It’s Clary’s night, you see. Playing the Spirit of the Bells, he looks at home in a succession of inexplicably but gorgeously spangly outfits. He adds quips and rudery of his own to Alan McHugh’s script, talk-sings his way through various tunes, turns this all into a parody of itself without ever being merely snide. Parents note too that most of his eye-wateringly camp quips will sail over the heads of young children as surely as the double-decker bus that Stemp flies over the stalls.

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Christmas 2016 - Cinderella

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Julian Clary unleashes a tsunami of smut

Cinderella review at the London Palladium

The Guardian - Michael Billington - December 15th 2016

With Paul O’Grady and Julian Clary in the leads, pantomime pitches camp at the Palladium for the first time since 1987. You might say it overpitches it since this is, without doubt, the filthiest panto I’ve ever seen. It’s less a show for all the family than for highly sophisticated grownups.

Clary sets the tone as a Dandini who declares himself the prince’s right-hand man and who appears in more startling creations than you will find in the book of Genesis. He also dispenses a series of double-entendres with feline grace. Some are genuinely funny. “Did you find the gypsies’ camp?” he is asked. “One or two of them, yes,” he suavely replies.

Many, however, are just outrageous, as when he recalls his circus days as a human cannonball: “I used to shoot over the ringmaster’s back.”

Gloriously excessive

Cinderella review at the London Palladium

The Stage - by Paul Vale - December 15th 2016

In an array of increasingly outrageous, feather-trimmed costumes, [Julian Clary] commands practically every scene, constantly breaking the fourth wall and consistently raising the roof with desperately near-the-knuckle innuendo. Usually comically aloof, he is also game for a laugh, taking to the skies in a flying Vespa or joining in the familiar chaos of the ubiquitous pantomime song.