BREATHTAKING magic drew gasps and cheers from the audience when Spotlight performed Beauty and the Beast at Shanklin Theatre this week.

The show opened on Wednesday and is on a festive run, right through to January 3, all being well.

There must be some nerves among the cast after last year's panto, Rapunzel, was shut down at a day's notice due to Covid regulations when a sudden lockdown was announced.

This year, perhaps more than ever, there was so much love in the audience for those on stage.

The warmth was palpable and the support was there, filling nearly every seat in the auditorium.

With Spotlight, you know what you're going to get. Money well spent for families looking for the ultimate panto experience.

The professional cast tick every box.

There's fantastic comedic timing, with differing levels of jokes guaranteeing laughs from the little kids (fart noises etc) and the adults (plenty of innuendo to fly over the heads of the little'uns).

The actors effortlessly sing and dance to perfection, the set is glittery and fab-u-lous, the messy scene is complete carnage.

Isle of Wight County Press: Spotlight's Beauty and the Beast at Shanklin Theatre.

The magic scene when Prince Charming (yes, the Adam Ant song was used for his stage entrance) turned into the beast was one of the best I have ever seen.

Brad Barnley was a fantastic leading man and Rowan Lathey just perfect (isn't she always?) as Belle — her range of expressions spot on in conveying her changing feelings towards the beast.

Jayne Derbyshire and Charles Johnson were a hilarious double act and their enjoyment of playing such hideous characters shone through. Their dancing to Rotten to the Core from Descendants was particularly skilful.

Ashleigh Mackness was delightful as Fairy Gadabout — word perfect despite a huge chunk of the script assigned to her.

Isle of Wight County Press: James Pellow as the dame in Beauty and the Beast at Shanklin Theatre.

The relatively small cast were all strong in their parts — James Derbyshire as Pascal, Dominic Pope as Papa, Joe Alabaster as Sir Prancelot, and James Pellow as Dame Doughballs, all ably supported by dancers and juniors.

It's been a tough couple of years for theatre and support is needed now more than ever. Bums on seats are vital for the industry.

You know what to do – tickets are available from Shanklin Theatre box office.