Thankfully, real pantomime is back at the Mayflower, Southampton, with the best production ever to be seen on the south coast. It’s still traditional, with all the essential ingredients, but is so high tech and the 3D sequences are unbelievable. Qdos have really come up trumps and their star-studded cast all has real talent and none are just here for their novelty value. They all contribute to make this such a remarkable feast of top class entertainment.
Julian Clary, as the Spirit of the Beans, has that real star quality and looks amazing in his numerous costume changes. His appearances are eagerly awaited and his clever one-liners, which may seem innocent to some, are much appreciated by so many more. Julian even goes airborne and his patter with Lee Mead is such fun.
Nigel Havers is brilliant as Fleshcreep and his real acting talents take this role a step further. The kids boo and the mums just swoon. Lee Mead, as Jack Trott, does sing that song, which provides the banter, but he powerfully handles more demanding songs and is proving a dashing hero.
Paul Zerdin, Britain’s most accomplished ventriloquist, is so important to this production. He links it all brilliantly, as Simple Simon, with the aid of Sam and a short gem from the baby. Paul also adds a new dimension to the pre-finale song routine. Jeffrey Holland is perfect as Dame Trott and he makes a great contribution. It’s a smaller role than normal to suit the casting of the show.
Robyn Mellor (Princess Apricot) sings so strongly and Ian Gledhill has some special moments as King Crumble. Shireen Jordan, as Lucy - Lady in Waiting, proves she is so much more than a local radio news presenter and her scene with Sam, with Mr Zerdin nowhere in sight, is one of the most touching in the show.
Anyone that thinks pantomime is a dying entertainment should quickly head for the Mayflower. It’s a masterpiece of the genre and must be the best in Britain. Julian Clary is in a class of his own as a headliner.