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Oh yes it is! Pantomime will be back in the West End

PANTOMIME, in peril because of the pandemic, will be returning to the West End.

Julian Clary, Ashley Banjo and Diversity, Nigel Havers and Beverley Knight will star in the show, in front of a socially-distanced audience, at the London Palladium.

Producers said the three week-run would provide a ‘sticking plaster’ on the ‘big theatrical wound’ caused by Covid-19.

It is made possible due to a National Lottery initiative to buy seats which must remain empty for social distancing.

More productions at other venues will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Look behind you: Julian Clary is among the stars to appear PICTURES: PA

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 said.

‘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.’

The production will now mean ‘over 200 people will now have jobs over Christmas’ and will help with ‘the rehabilitation of London’s vibrant West End’, he said.

The show will ‘celebrate the very best of pantomime, with comedy in abundance’ and will also star Paul Zerdin, Gary Wilmot, Charlie Stemp and Jac Yarrow.

Toe-tapping: Ashley Banjo will hopefully bring Diversity along with him

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who owns several West End theatres, including the Palladium, said: ‘Christmas 2020 needs a pantomime, and this one … has never meant so much to our industry and our audiences.

‘Opening Pantoland At The Palladium will 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.’

It comes as Nottingham Playhouse also announced a Christmas pantomime, which is not part of the National Lottery initiative, a ‘glittery reimagining of ultimate fairy tale adventure’, Cinderella.

Its artistic director Adam Penford said: ‘Christmas in Nottingham just wouldn’t be the same without a Playhouse panto, it’s a major part of the cultural calendar.

‘So this year we will be mounting a special version of the most popular panto title in the land, Cinderella.

‘Whilst there will be necessary changes to bring it to the stage and ensure safety is paramount, it will still contain all the fun, magic and festive cheer of the classic Playhouse panto, which audiences know and love.’

Pantoland At The Palladium, Dec 12 until Jan 3, 2021, tickets on sale now at lwtheatres.co.uk; Cinderella is at Nottingham Playhouse from Nov 27 until Jan 16, 2021, for more information visit nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk