My first trip to the panto as a young boy was to the Woodville (or the Woodville Halls as it was called then), so it was with a sense of nostalgia that I headed there to watch Beauty and the Beast.
I do not remember being a huge fan of pantomime, so I was slightly apprehensive when I sat down, among the excited crowd of young families.
While I cannot say it has made me a panto fan for life, I was pleasantly surprised with the production – and I was not the only one.
Steve Fortune is playing Dame Dorothy Do-It Dame B.U.M
The show was a big hit with the audience, young and old, with children booing the villainous Eugene, played with great gusto by Richard Ede and shrieking “it’s behind you” when panto dame Dorothy Do-It and her son Willy Do-It got in to calamitous mishaps.
The traditional fairy tale tells the story of a beautiful young woman who falls in love with a bitter and twisted man trapped in the form of a beastly monster.
It was jazzed up with modern numbers from groups such as One Direction and competently performed original ballads from the enjoyable Imagine Theatre production.
There was even a chance for the crowd to join in the fun as the cast dragged people on to stage for their five minutes of fame.
Each panto box was ticked, with moderate scares and thrills from the beast lurking in the dark and giggles from parents at some of the bawdy jokes from the flamboyant Dorothy Do-It.
As people made their way home after the curtain came down, many left with a contented smile and I must admit I was one of them.
It was a fitting tribute to actor Peter Whitfield, who was originally cast as Beauty’s father in the production but sadly passed away in November.
An Imagine Theatre spokesman described him as an “excellent person”.
Beauty and the Beast is showing at the Woodville until Saturday, January 4. Tickets are from £14 and are available at the box office on 01474 337774 or at www.woodville.co.uk.