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I used to watch the local Panto every December as a child. Sadly, the Christmas tradition became less frequent as I got older and eventually stopped.

When my Editor asked if I wanted to watch Beauty and the Beast at the Cresset, I happily accepted, but was curious…

1)    Would (after so many years) Panto give me the festive feel-good feeling it used to?

2)    Would I appreciate it as an adult?

Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a young lady who must learn to love a grizzly beast if she is to release him from a spell cast upon him by the evil Carabosse (Lawrence Stubbings). We all know the story – after all, this is a tale as old as time. However, with the added magic of pantomime, it felt fresh and original. With completely new all-singing and all-dancing characters thrown in, it won’t matter if you’ve seen the Disney film one hundred times, this will still feel different.

During last night’s performance, the kids particularly loved Silly Billy (Eastenders’ Ricky Groves). I bumped into the Strictly star a few months ago at the Tony Hadley Golf Classic. Gary told me, “I’m so pleased to be back at the Cresset this year. I can confirm that this time I’ll be singing a song more catered to me. During the last Panto, they got me singing ‘Reach for the Stars’. I had to get the audience singing the high notes because I couldn’t reach them.” Having now seen Ricky sing in the show, I can confirm that his songs are indeed more suited to him this time around. Ricky’s enthusiastic performances of well-known songs from Lady Gaga to Madness really got the audience moving their feet.


And you won’t be disappointed with the other performers either. Jackie Travers (Big Brother), David McClelland (TV gadget guru), Beauty (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) and the hilarious Dame Dolly Doughnut (Cresset favourite – Zach Vanderfelt) went all out to make this a professional, fun, and memorable show for all the family.

Despite not having been to a Panto in years, my love for it clearly hadn’t died. Before long, I was singing along to the catchy tunes and was completely taken in by the colourful and magical sets.

Stand out moments include a unique version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and almost every scene with Silly Billy – who at times, had me laughing out loud.

This fantastic production is running at the Cresset until December 30 and would make a perfect Christmas present. Book now on 01733 265705 or find out more on

Fantastic offers are available for schools and group bookers. Contact the groups co-ordinator on 01733 842500.

 Mikey Clarke

Photos: Chris Brudenell


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