We could all use a little extra sparkle and jolliness in our lives right now and thankfully the festive season also brings an added bit of theatrical magic with it too.

Photo: Caroline Keyworth

If you want to be transported into a world away from our own where larger than life characters spontaneously burst into song, all things bright and weird and wonderful are celebrated and good always wins out in the end, then take a trip to pantomime land.

Willow (7) and I were guests of The New Theatre Royal Lincoln for its opening night of Beauty and the Beast which had all this and lots more as the audience were whisked away to an enchanted castle with a slightly psychedelic feel as Belle is entertained by a personified candelabra, clock, feather duster and some sugary cakes.

One person that is not in need of a seasonal pick me up is Jake Quickenden’s character Flash Hugo as his self-confidence in his own appearance is more than intact.  Conceited doesn’t quite cover his own brand of narcissism but, if he ever was to question himself, his devoted entourage, the Singit sisters, would soon set him straight, their swooning only interrupted by their speaking in movie quotes or enthusiastic signing.

Photo: Caroline Keyworth

As the dame, Mary Muffintop, is frozen in the castle’s curse, the Singit sisters (or “Swishy sisters” as Willow named them) took on the role of multiple, quick costume changes – if you want to see a singing traffic cone then Clasketgate is the place to go – which helped cement them as Willow’s favourite characters, second to Belle (played by Zoe Hanna May) of course.

Photos: Caroline Keyworth

The 128 year old venue has made its recent pantos known for its celebrity leads, returning favourites and the excellent singing voices in its cast’s line up and this year’s audience were certainly ready to enjoy and join in with every sparkly minute of it.

And Willow definitely thought it was a good way to spend a birthday.  She still enthusiastically remembers what Zoe Hanna May said to her when she met her following her performance of Maid Marian in Robin Hood at NTR two years ago.  So no doubt she will be dining out for quite a while on Jake Quickenden – swapping his character’s smarm for his own natural charm – telling her she looked even more beautiful in her yellow dress than Belle did in hers.  An ending that ensured the smile stayed on her face long after the curtain drew on the lovely escapist two hours.

Beauty and the Beast continues at The New Theatre Royal Lincoln until January 9th, 2022.  Click here to find out more or call 01522 519999.