BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: Pantomime is back in Wakefield – Theatre Royal review


Oh no it’s not (well it wasn’t last year) but oh yes it is back in town this winter period… it’s time to revisit our favourite pantomimes…

Fresh from our first Young Writers and Reporters Club group, our team of reviewers shared their thoughts…

“It’s been a while but I bet you remember how to raise the roof…” declared the cheesy comedy duo Fanny (Chris Hannon of Topsy and Tim fame) and Louis Fromage (Sam Nixon of Pop Idol), and we certainly did as it felt great to be back at Theatre Royal Wakefield for a hilarious Pantomime version of Beauty and the Beast. 

Journalist Sophie Mei Lan, founder of / went along to review the show with her two daughters Jasmine and Arianna and their friend Mowada.

This slick cast seamlessly entertains both old and young alike with Hannon’s corker of a show. Making up for lost time just like any great relationship, distance makes the heart grow fonder, as we were quickly reacquainted with how brilliant our favourite panto is, complete with water pistols and audience participation. This is utterly brilliant with its light-hearted approach and traditional Panto humour yet its in-depth layers of expertise transforms this age-old tale into something of a ‘Beauty’ for everyone.

From the warm volunteers who greet you to ‘be their guest’ at this fabulous venue on Westgate to the diversity of the engaged audience, all reflecting the abundance of hope and joy the children and I feel as we lose ourselves along with our worries into this masterpiece on our doorstep. 

From the first ‘Bonjour’ to the last goodbye, all four of us are thoroughly entertained throughout as we abandon the winter weather bellowing outside for this heart-warming delight. 

With live music to boot, I cannot fault this production which had us all dancing in our seats, even the kids forgot to eye-roll at me as I couldn’t help but shimmy along.  If it hadn’t been quite so dark and chilly as we ventured back out onto Westgate with flashing fairy light in hand, it would have definitely inspired a visit to “Wakefield’s favourite restaurant,” the pie shop. 

This show is a staple in our Christmas consumption and it didn’t feel like Christmas without it, very much like our local appetite for a pie to complete any night out.

Not only is Beauty and the Beast clever and professionally delivered but the cast is as ever made up of local talent who inspired my eldest daughter and their friend, to join the theatre’s Performance Academy. 

In an industry that has been largely depleted in the Pandemic, this show transports you away from the drama of the outside world and into the fantastical world of the theatre and all it offers us. 

Let’s not forget the Theatre is a charity too so not only are we treated to a locally sponsored delight but we are contributing to the continuation of this place which inspires the next generation who not only lost the joy of the panto but the power of play too. 

Whilst we did what we could to teach them the odd ‘bonjour,’ nothing replaces the wide-eyed sparkling of my children’s eyes as they’re transported away from the screen and right onto the Victorian stage across the stunning Matcham auditorium.

“I want to go again,” enthused my six-year-old who had been indifferent about attending prior as her last Panto was a forgotten memory.

Fresh from their writer’s club we had just held at The Ridings Shopping Centre, earlier that evening, my budding scriptwriters wanted to write their own reviews: 

By Jasmine Mei India Hale and Mowada Sulaman, aged 9. 

It’s been a long time since we have been to a pantomime because of covid so it’s a real pleasure to be back watching these incredible shows with my family and friends. Like always, the panto was funny and entertaining. Fingers-crossed the Christmas plays will all be on this year. I can assure you the theatre royal is the place to go no matter what occasion it is great fun but is very loud and busy. Personally, I recommend it for kids. All in all, it is an amazing experience seeing people in the industry playing their part to get back to normality.

By Arianna Mei Rosa Hale, 6.

It has been a long time since we’ve been to

the theatre but it was worth the wait. It was fun, exciting and funny and I liked being back at Theatre Royal again after Covid which is why we couldn’t go for so long.  

We always go to the Panto at Christmas so we I was upset it wasn’t on last year. 

All about the show: 

Written by Chris Hannon

Directed by Rhiannon Hannon

Theatre Royal Wakefield’s magical family pantomime returns in 2021 with a tale that’s as old as time itself.

There was once a pompous, preening Prince, cursed by a magical enchantress for his cruel behaviour. Transformed into a brutish beast, the Prince lived out his miserable days deep within the forest. Left with a solitary rose, the enchantress warns – as long as it blooms, he’ll stay alive.

Back in the village, the locals prepare for a cooking contest like no other. In order to secure his victory, one courageous cook decides to go in search of a very special ingredient in the depths of the forest; the legendary rose. Little does he know, this flower’s got powers and it’s not to be medalled with!

Brought to you by the same fantastic team behind Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Aladdin, and with world-famous Dame, Chris Hannon once more returning to the Wakefield stage. Join us for this magical tale. It could be beautiful; it may get beastly – but one thing is for sure, it will have the cheesiest jokes in town! 

Peace, Love & Sparkle

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