Reviews are coming in for this year’s London Palladium pantomime Peter Pan.
An annual Christmas treat in the West End, producer and director Michael Harrison has pulled out all the stops this year to put on a huge, glitzy panto at the Palladium.
A stellar cast includes Jennifer Saunders as Captain Hook; Julian Clary as Seaman Smee; Louise Gaunt and Frances Mayli McCann will play Peter Pan and Wendy; Gary Wilmot as Henrietta Cook, Captain Hook’s mother; Paul Zerdin as Starkey, a crewman; Nigel Havers as Pirate Nigel; and Rob Madge as Tinker Bell.
The cast also includes Harry Ames as John; The Timbuktu Tumblers as The Neverlanders; young Michael played by Alfie Buck, Luca Fone, Barnaby Halliwell and Alfie Harrison; and the ensemble features Charlotte Bazeley, Chrissy Brooke, Jonathan Cordin, Kelly Downing, Katie Dunsden, Emma Hunter, Thomas Inge, Diante Lodge, Tyler Lotzof, Ella Nonini, Redmand Rance, Joshua Steel, Grant Thresh, Maxwell Trengove, Zinzile Tshuma, and Luke Woollaston. The Understudies are Suzy Bloom, Charles Brunton, Christopher Hewitt, and Jordan Walker.
Michael Harrison has also co-written the show, with input from Jennifer Saunders. The creative team also includes set designs by Mark Walters and costume designs by Hugh Durrant, choreography by Karen Bruce, lighting designs by Ben Cracknell, sound designs by Gareth Owen, costume maker Mike Coltman, and composition and orchestrations by Gary Hind.
Peter Pan is running at the London Palladium until 14 January 2024.
Read reviews of Peter Pan at the Palladium from The Stage, the Evening Standard and more, with further reviews to be added.
Peter Pan reviews
"Peter Pan reimagined as a sumptuous and sometimes outrageous vaudeville extravaganza"
"In this production from Crossroads Pantomimes, producer, director and writer Michael Harrison throws out much of the plot and lavishes the story with glittering set pieces, breathtaking dance routines and an array of glorious costumes. It is almost a burlesque of Peter Pan, which delivers big on the comedy, but not so big on character development."
"As an entertainment, it is outstanding, with a camp aesthetic to rival anything in the West End since – well, last year’s Jack and the Beanstalk at this venue."
"... Rob Madge is an absolute riot as an outspoken, thoroughly modern Tink"
"... [Julian] Clary’s camp delivery, oversized costumes and utter disregard for character, plot or motivation are a significant draw, setting rather than lowering the tone."
"In her pantomime debut, [Jennifer] Saunders takes to the genre like a duck to water, working the crowd with consummate ease"
"Julian Clary leads us on a riotous trip to never-never land"
"An entertaining mix of camp, slapstick, smut... and occasional acting"
"... this is business as usual for the ensemble – in other words a riotous mix of camp, slapstick, smut and occasional acting. And, as always, glorious fun."
"This is a version that just about pays lip service to the origin story... Instead the cast concentrates on enjoying themselves and entertaining the audience. Saunders is superb as Hook and cannot resist breaking into crowdpleasing Abfab impressions. Louis Gaunt is a more muscular Pan than you might expect. The boy who never grew up, but clearly spent a lot of hours in the gym. Clary as Seaman Smee brings Act One to a close on a literal high as he glides into the rafters."
"... what producer/director Michael Harrison's panto evokes most of all is the Carry On film franchise. As with those corny classics, each returning performer here plays the same character, regardless of the production."
"Julian Clary steals the show in a gloriously OTT Peter Pan"
"Ziegfeld Follies meets the Royal Variety Performance in this high-flying hit"
"In this year’s Peter Pan, the hot pants budget alone could probably bankroll a small country. It also gets top marks for narrative efficiency."
"Inspired by her former comedy partner Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders makes a respectable panto debut as Captain Hook, although she’s more crotchety than fearsome."
"But this panto’s major draw remains its magnificent regulars: Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, Paul Verdin and Julian Clary as, yes, seaman Smee. Clary really is a marvel, whether dispensing filthy innuendo (“Have you ever been press-ganged on the poop deck?”), or mercilessly skewering his castmates."
"Excellent too is rising star Rob Madge as a quick-witted Tinkerbell, leading an energetic mash-up of I Am What I Am and Born This Way."
"Definitely not for kids"
"Julian Clary, Jennifer Saunders and Nigel Havers look like they're having the time of their lives in this racy but heartwarming show"
"Sitting somewhere between a no-expense-spared variety show and sexual innuendo packed stand-up, it is not your standard fairy-tale frenzy made to please the kids. But adults, if you’re in the market for smut, camp silliness and filth – and to see a cast that includes Jennifer Saunders and Julian Clary – then grab a drink and hop on board the Jolly Roger, it’s time to fly away to Neverland."
"... Peter Pan has glitz, glamour and piles of pizazz, even if it does favour jazz hands above any real narrative."
"The Palladium panto has built a staunch following and become something like a family. Weird, wonderful and strangely touching, you’ll leave warm and grinning. Really, isn’t that all you’d want at Christmas?"
"Jennifer Saunders in a panto full of smutty pleasures"
"Call them overblown, call them an orgy of in-jokes, call them so innuendo-laden that they are barely family friendly any more, but Michael Harrison’s mega-budget shows know exactly what they are about."
"It’s hard for a guest villain to muscle in on the action among all the regulars, but Saunders throws herself into it with end-of-the-pier élan. She has a crocodile the size of a bus to contend with, not to mention tinsel, gay empowerment disco medleys, aerobatics, a slick chorus of 16. Yet her Hook has relish, her Edina has command, as she shambles on, proclaiming “Lacroix! Lacroix!”. Ab Fab the stage show? Again, why not?"
"So even if it’s not always innocent, the Palladium panto remains a huge, throbbing pleasure."
"High flying, adored pantomime"
"Perhaps the most surprising and emotionally impactful moment of the night comes from a rare showing of vulnerability from Clary, as he honours his friend and co-star from 2019’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Paul O’Grady, who sadly passed away earlier this year. With a reworked number from Sunset Boulevard, he sings with a heartfelt simplicity that “sometimes it feels as if he never said goodbye.” The sadness is palpable in a show that delivers festive cheer by the bucketload."
"And for the rest of the evening, laugh out loud we did. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s another production that makes this writer split his sides as much as the Palladium panto."