Star ratings issued out of 5
Bristol Hippodrome - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Wyvern Theatre, Swindon - Jack and the Beanstalk
London Palladium - Pantoland at the Palladium
WYVERN THEATRE, SWINDON
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Daryl Back in association with HQ Theatres
Written by Simon Aylin, Directed by David Ashley
Reviewed by Darren Chivers
The Wyvern Theatre has delivered a triumphant return to pantoland reminding us just how much we have missed it. Jack and the Beanstalk was a success judging by the reactions of an adoring audience. Daryl Back and HQ Theatres have once again worked their magic with great results. The song choices offered something for everyone with something on offer for all ages, a couple of the more recently released pop songs went over my head whilst kids were bopping along in their seats seemingly knowing lyrics word for word. Matt Rixon has fast become one of my favourite Panto Dames, this is the second time I have seen him perform and he has all the qualities of a traditional dame, he has the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he graces the stage and would be an asset to any panto cast. Millie O’Connell brings us a touch of the west-end with her ‘Six – The Musical’ inspired performance as Queen Fussybutt with a very modern take on her character. Louie Spence is The Spirit of the Beans in lieu of the traditional pantomime fairy for this performance and spends a lot of time pirouetting on and off of stage to help the story along from time to time, the character has little to do in the bigger scheme of things but Louie keeps the camp level high and the crowd seemed to love him for it. It's great to see some returning panto faces to Swindon with loveable Samuel Parker and forever smiling Liam McEvoy but it's Daisy the cow possibly gets the biggest cheer from the younger audience members and deservedly so, that cow tap dancing routine was impressive, yes a tap dancing cow. Add in superb performances from the entire ensemble, the traditional ghost gag, a very pretty set, water pistols, a song sheet, pyrotechnics, audience interaction and a rendition of ‘If I were not upon this stage’ and you have the recipe for success right there and so we encourage you to take a trip up the Beanstalk this panto season at the Wyvern Theatre. Panto is most certainly back with a bang!
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
Reviewed by Darren Chivers
What a night we had in Bristol enjoying Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, other pantos could take a lesson from this production, the standards are high and the results are glorious. There is never any doubt that the Bristol Hippodrome will deliver year on year, without fail the Hippodrome panto is at the top of its game but this year something special happened, Andy Ford made a welcome return after an absence of five years, the panto gods have smiled fondly upon us and returned this comedy genius to where he belongs. Andy has a style of humour that caters for children and adults in a way no other comic seems to have achieved and it is clear that the Hippodrome audience adore him, this year he was Muddles the jester to Queen Dragonella, played sublimely by Birds of Feather star Lesley Joseph. This was the first time I have seen Lesley in panto and she was the most perfect Wicked Queen and her level of evilness was pitched to perfection and her the onstage banter about her age was taken in good humour.
This is a polished performance which dazzles with Christmas magic from the moment the orchestra strike up their first attention seeking note commanding your attention to the besparkled stage. The script by Alan McHugh is well paced and has a few surprise twists which keep it fresh and unpredictable without detracting from the classic fairytale vibe.
Rob Rinder has taken to panto like a duck to water and you get the impression he has been doing it for years, it is infact his panto debut and he looks as if he is having a ball. Dale Mathurin and Charlotte Haines both have the most amazing singing voices and offer strong performances throughout. Nods of well deserved recognition go to the enormous talents of Gary Hind for his musical magic and TWINS FX for providing that wow moment that has the jaws of younger watchers hanging open in amazement.
This production is panto perfection, bravo to all involved.
PANTOLAND AT THE PALLADIUM
Michael Harrison for Crossroads Pantomimes
Executive Producer & Director - Michael Harrison
Reviewed by Scott Ritchie
Pantoland at The Palladium is a celebration of everything great in this most British of traditions. The line up of star turns are here to entertain but as Julian Clary declares, "If you want plot stay at home and watch Casualty".
The ever youthful Donny Osmond delivered a polished performance and didn't disappoint his adoring fans who were out in full force. Clary gave us Covid related one liners - "would you like it down the throat or a prick in the hand?". The crowd roared and filled the packed auditorium with screams of laughter.
This production is designed to sparkle, glitter and bedazzle. The fireworks during Australian duo Spark Fire Dance (who hula with flaming hoops) are off the scale. Donny Osmond's rendition of 'Crazy Horses' has enough megawatt power to blow the roof off our most famous variety theatre.
Panto veterans Gary Wilmot, Nigel Havers and Paul Zerdin give excellent and polished performances to celebrate the history of panto at The Palladium but are often just fuel for Clary and his brand of humour. The audience lap it up and throw their adoration at the king (or queen) of innuendo.
Panto is back at The Palladium. Well, sort of. If you are up for some uncomplicated fun but don't mind viewing a plotless affair, this production may well jingle jangle your Christmas bells!