We are in the full throes of panto season, and nowhere does it quite like the London Palladium. Last year saw pantomime return to the iconic venue for the first time in 30 years, and it was a huge, resounding success. Could this year’s offering, Dick Whittington, live up to the hype? In a word, yes. Here are our top reasons to see the show.
Dick Whittington is a huge show, with set pieces that will, quite literally, make your jaw drop. From an enormous rat that dominates the vast Palladium stage (voiced by the wonderful Paul O’Grady, sadly missing from this year’s show after his run as the Wicked Stepmother in last year’s Cinderella), to a flying double-decker bus, no expense has been spared on making this show a visual feast. Julian Clary (Spirit of the Bells) drifts on stage in increasingly bizarre and wonderful outfits, the headgear alone often drawing huge laughs from the audience.
The tube song.
A surprise stand-out moment in the show, Gary Wilmot (Sarah the Cook) performs a song in which he names every single tube station on the London Underground. It feels like a bit of a disservice to describe it so nonchalantly – it really is an incredible feat, which is one of those ‘worth the ticket price for it alone’ moments. Some of my fellow audience members even gave a standing ovation at the end of the song, something I’ve only seen maybe once or twice in all my theatregoing years.
Julian Clary steals the show, with his trademark quick wit, camp indifference, and co-star lampooning. A personal highlight was when, aboard a flying ship (yes, really) with Charlie Stemp (Dick Whittington) he sings the theme from Titanic, to hilarious effect.
The musical numbers.
Dick Whittington is packed full of big musicals numbers, and there truly is something for everyone. Musical theatre aficionados will love Elaine Paige reliving some of her greatest hits, with lyrics gleefully re-written (think ‘I’d rather be up a drainpipe’ instead ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’), and plenty of nods to Charlie Stemp’s run in Half A Sixpence. Diversity fans are treated to two big numbers, with their characteristic creativity, flips and stunts.
The panto routines.
This might seem obvious but shouldn’t be overlooked. Much of the show feels like you are watching a slick, mammoth musical or variety shows, but the show retains many elements of a traditional pantomime. Whilst there are fewer political jokes than you might expect (surprisingly, there’s just one Trump joke, but luckily, it’s a gem), and the audience never gets the chance to shout ‘it’s behind you’, there is plenty of call-and response, classic routines slickly executed, and unsuspecting children on stage.