An old woman knocks on the door of a Pembroke Castle begging to come in, an arrogant prince refuses her entry and the old woman, really an evil fairy, wreaks her revenge, so begins this year’s panto at Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre.

Staged on a simple chocolate box set, complete with petal dropping rose, with local jokes and catchy tunes aplenty the small cast of this year’s panto really gave it their all.

Western Telegraph: Evil fairy Shadowmist- Ceri Ashe

Ceri Ashe as the evil fairy Shadowmist embodied the role with much evil Mwha-ha-ha ing, physically putting her whole body into the role and making sequins seem sinister in her sparkling costume.

Belle, played by Leila Hughes is sweeter than sweet, has a lovely singing voice and is great at engaging with the ‘girls and boys’ in the audience.

Western Telegraph: Belle and her dad, played by Lloyd Grayshon.

Another standout cast member was Amelia Ryan as Crystal the Butler. With silly jokes and a good line in slapstick she confidently filled the stage and got the audience laughing and singing along.

The panto doesn’t have a traditional dame this year but instead stars Ceri Mears as the hapless Good Fairy Gertrude.

Western Telegraph: A good bit of gunk filled slapstick.

Resplendent in flashing trainers and a variety of costumes he has the audience groaning and his corny jokes and giggling at ones about a local MP on the toilet!

Looking at the programme you can see that this year’s panto at the Torch really draws on the talent that we have here in Pembrokeshire. More than half the cast are local actors.

The music and lyrics are written by Pembrokeshire composer Kevin Jenkins and the musical director is Bella Voce’s Sarah Benbow.

The fight director, assistant director and production manager are all Pembrokeshire natives too.

Western Telegraph: Belle's ball dress was designed by a local school pupil.

And of course, Belle’s dress for the ball has been designed by local school boy Ioan from Tenby who is referenced as the designer in the script.

A sparkling pink confection adorned with books to reflect Belle’s love of reading. Ioan’s original design was rendered into reality by designer Kevin Jenkins and the Torch’s wardrobe team and was a really nice touch.

There were some bits in the script that I struggled with: There was quite an incongruous scene in which the beast was staggering about dying while the rest of the cast got the audience to perform a magic spell to ward off the bad fairy.

Belle also fell for the Beast before he had shown her an ounce of kindness and later proclaimed that the beast had ‘only ever been kind to me’ – he locked you up in a tower love!

In saying that there were also some positive messages: Belle sings about her love of reading and all you can find out in books and sings of all the things she could be; the beast explains that he roars because all his feelings get so big inside him and have to come out, they celebrate a birthday not a wedding and emphasise that it’s the beauty inside a person that counts.

Western Telegraph: A chocolate box set and a cast that gave it  their all.

The Torch’s offering this year is pared-back panto with a simple set and small cast.

A big shout out must go to Liz the sign language interpreter who I loved watching as she acted through the script at all times.

The panto was well-received and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience on the night I attended, with many of them up and dancing in their seats.

Beauty and the Beast is playing at the Torch Theatre until December 31.