It's panto season. Oh yes it is!

After the surreal couple of years we’ve all experienced, I now seek as many great nights out with the family as I can get. And boy did we all have a great night out watching Beauty & the Beast at The Cresset in Peterborough – oh yes we did (sorry, I’ll stop that now).

To be honest, I often have a love/hate relationship with panto. I love the cheesy jokes and audience interaction, but when overdone, they can soon become rather tiresome.

This particular panto however, was refreshingly self-aware. The actors knew what the audience wanted, but also knew when enough was enough.

This year's fun family show tells the story of Beauty (Victoria Jane) seeking out her father (Giles Stoakley) in the enchanted forest, before finding herself in a castle with the Beast - formally known as Prince Rasputin (Andrew Crawford) before he was cursed.

It's a story we're all likely to be familiar with, but the glittering sets, spectacular songs and upbeat dance routines bring new life to the classic tale. The energy was cranked up to 11 throughout.

The talented cast looked like they were truly enjoying themselves on stage - and the same can be said for the audience. We were tapping our feet, clapping along and grinning from ear to ear.

Grant Urquhart, who you'll recognise as one of the waiters on TV's First Dates gave a great turn as Silly Billy teaming up with panto dame Tony Howes as northern Nurse Jackie O'LaLa for some great comedy moments.

And you might spot a certain rabbit making an appearance as Peterborough United mascot Peter Burrow leaves the pitch for a taste of showbiz.

He was given a voice and was a firm favourite with my son whose face lit up every time the giant rabbit appeared on stage.

A minor criticism I've given similar shows in the past is their choice of songs to feature - using too many much older hits that most of the younger generation would simply not have heard of.

It's always been my theory that the happier the little tykes are, the better the overall viewing experience for everyone else. Rest assured, your small children should remain entertained from start to finish with plenty of hits they will know and love. If my energetic 3-year-old can sit through the entire thing, I'm pretty confident you'll also be OK.

Another concern you may have is linked to that dreaded Covid. The Bretton venue ensured masks were worn and that all temperatures were checked. I felt very much in safe hands.

If you're looking for a safe, fun family experience, Beauty & the Beast is it. As I returned to my car all I could hear were positive remarks from other attendees which very much echoed my own opinion.

Beauty & The Beast performances are running at The Cresset in Bretton until December 30.

Get your tickets here:

ESP Rating: 4/5

Mikey Clarke