Julian Clary has joked he feels “viable all of a sudden” after it was confirmed the London Palladium panto he is starring in will go ahead this Christmas.
Most pantomimes have had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it has been announced that Pantoland at The Palladium will go ahead.
As well as Clary, the show will feature Ashley Banjo and his dance troupe Diversity, Beverley Knight, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot. Charlie Stemp and Jac Yarrow will also take part.
The production has been made possible because of a creative initiative announced by The National Lottery. The organisation will buy seats that need to remain empty, so that performances can go ahead with social distancing.
Announcing the news, the Palladium said on Twitter the venue would be “reconfigured to adhere to social distancing measures to ensure the safety and comfort of all audience members”.
Another post said: “Our once-in-a-lifetime variety spectacular will be packed to The Palladium rafters with outrageous comedy, sensational song and dance, stunning special effects and all the unmissable magic befitting the UK’s biggest and best pantomime.”
Sharing the news on his own Twitter account, Clary quipped: “I feel so VIABLE all of a sudden!”
The theatre world has been hit hard by the pandemic, and many people in the industry have spoken of the need to get it up and running again.
Pantoland at The Palladium director and producer Michael Harrison said the event “promises to be a spectacular and exciting celebration of this wonderful art form that has been so devastated and decimated by COVID-19”.
“There is no doubt producing a show of this size and scale is a risk – but it is a risk we have to take,” he continued.
“This is not a long-term fix, nor a solution to the tragic situation our industry is in, it simply provides a sticking plaster on a very big theatrical wound as we hopefully prepare for full openings in 2021.”
Palladium owner Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of those who has spoken about getting the theatre world back on its feet.
He said opening the show at the Palladium would “provide crucial support to struggling restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses across the West End, leading to thousands of vital jobs on stage, off stage and backstage”.
“Christmas 2020 needs a pantomime, and this one … has never meant so much to our industry and our audiences,” said the theatre impresario.
Pantoland at The Palladium will run from 12 December to 3 January.
Additional reporting by PA.
Watch: Andrew Lloyd Webber speaks about theatre closures