IT HAS been a hard time for theatres during the Covid pandemic, so I was delighted to be invited along to The Anvil to see this year’s Beauty and The Beast pantomime.

I was blown away by how beautiful the theatre in Basingstoke is. I was impressed with the foyer, which had a Christmas tree, bar and souvenir shop designed to look just like the Beasts castle.

Apart from having to wear a face-covering throughout the performance, it seemed all very normal. This was especially nice after the past couple of years and It was a joy to see the residents of Basingstoke come together to get into the festive spirit.

The production tells the story of a Prince, who is cursed to spend his days as a monster until he regains his humanity by winning a woman’s love.

The show filled me with joy from start to finish and I loved watching the fantastic duo of Polly La Plonk (played by Nick Wilton) and her son Louis (played by Chris Pizzey) who gave a hilarious performance, leaving the audience in stitches.

Meanwhile, Belle (played by Maria Coyne­) had the voice of an angel as she impressed with her vocals. She captivated the audience with her stage presence from start to finish.

Joe McFadden put on an outstanding performance taking on the role of the Beast, before transforming into the Prince.

He played a convincing Beast and had a powerful stage presence and impressive vocals.

A memorable part of the show was his transformation into the Prince as the audience clapped and cheered along.

The pantomime was packed full of jokes and innuendos for adults to enjoy and even incorporated popular songs including Ed Sheeran’s Shivers.

I have to also mention the ghost scene in the haunted castle, which had children in the audience screaming “it is behind you” and “oh yes it is” as Polly La Plonk, Louis and Belle encountered a ghost.

This magical story sees Belle agreeing to stay with the Beast in return for her father, who is being held captive by the Beast. The audience watches with amazement as they fall in love and become a match made in heaven.

In a brilliant transformation scene, the Beast returns to being the Prince and the pantomime ends happily ever after.

The show is a dazzling family fun-filled festive production that is not to be missed.