Oh Yes It Is! Cinderella On Sparkling Form At The Palladium
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Cinderella is the first pantomime at the Palladium in nearly 30 years — making this star studded show a big deal. The lavish production has pulled out all the stops — here's a panto wanting to make a big noise.
The action is placed on the cobbled streets outside a fictional Victorian era London Palladium, with fruit and geese sellers hawking their wares (nicely recalling another rags-to-riches tale, My Fair Lady). Ian Westbrook's cartoon bright set doesn't always make use of this imaginative springboard (we're not sure where a woodland fits into the London theme here). But kids will love the sparkly pink of Prince Charming's (Lee Mead) abode and the animatronic horses that float through the air pulling Cinders's (Natasha J Barnes of Funny Girl) chariot.
Creators have mined the full breadth of popular British entertainment and we breeze from one thing to the other at a pace. There are elements of Strictly in its celebration of dance; ballet, ballroom, tap and contemporary. All these are played out in X Factor-like edit-room speed. Many scenes were so lovely, we would have liked them to linger more.
Spoiling us with laughs are two of the country's funniest drag acts — Julian Clary's larger than life Dandini and Paul O'Grady's Baroness Hardup (played with an engaging reluctance). There's comedy in the friction between the two as past lovers — Dandini jilted Hardup to 'do two gentlemen of verona' ("they said were from Verona anyway"). But also the undertone of competition between the two real-life comedians (inevitable considering their stature) adds interesting tension. Clary is funny just by breathing, and in his element in high camp mode he is hard to eclipse.
Cinderella is played with cheeky schoolgirl charm by Barnes, as if her imprisonment by the two ugly sisters is her experience of authority she's trying to escape from, rather than Cinderella's usual stoic martyrdom.
There's a little thread of innocence in all the dazzling entertainment. Four children are brought on stage for a singalong and awarded presents. For all the excess and entertainment, the flying fairy godmother and the glitter canons, this is a precious glimpse into a time gone by at the Palladium.
Cinderella is showing at The London Palladium until 15 January. Tickets £19.50-£125. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 16 December 2016