Beauty and the Beast, Salisbury Playhouse, until January 13

Beauty and the Beast, billed appropriately as a spellbinding pantomime, is enthralling packed audiences at Salisbury Playhouse. Its run began with some sell-out performances, and the unprecedented demand prompted extension of the usual panto season to Sunday, January 13.

Andrew Pollard's imaginative script captures the magic and excitement of the famous fairytale about Beauty, the heroine, and a prince who has been transformed into a Beast.

This production's French flavour adds to the fun, with the action centred on Paris, the city of love. Alex Wadham is Cupid, accompanied by a white-winged entourage of dancers. Pink predominates, and the accent is on sweets, with a candy caravan and icing sugar that proves to be an antidote to the wicked witch.

Joseph Black is the handsome Prince who is transformed into the Beast by Spite (the glitteringly horrid Helen Colby). Beauty is Amorette, played by the lovely Liberty Buckland, whose scatty sister Souffle is portrayed frenetically by Nerine Skinner. Ralph Bogard plays their father, Monsieur Marzipan. Every panto must have a dame, and the inimitable Richard Ede is splendid as Betty Bonbon.

Ryan McBride directs this colourful production that brims with songs, surprises, dance, and comedy. Christopher Peake is musical director and arranger.

James Button designed the stunning sets; lighting design is by David W Kidd, and sparkling dance sequences are choreographed by Nicky Griffiths.

A packed audience revelled in this spectacular show, which has excitement, scary sequences, fantastic effects and a generous measure of love and kindness that triumphs in traditional style. Delight escalates to ensure a scintillating finale and happiness all round.

Stella Taylor