PANTO season has arrived (oh, yes it has) and it has brought deliciously wicked baddies and jaw-dropping vocals.

A dame who makes your sides split, a handsome hero and a wickedly good baddie dishing out hilarious ad-libs are just a few reasons why we loved The Swan Theatre's 2023 panto.

Jack and The Beanstalk provided more than just your classic gags and dished out off-the-cuff tongue-in-cheek humour which was suitable for all ages.

You can always tell if a panto is good by the reaction from the audience – and children and adults were absorbed in the events unfolding on stage.

The cast worked effortlessly with the children in the audience and managed to keep them engaged for the entirety of the show - something many parents know is a difficult feat.

Audiences were easily transported to a small village known as Worcester on the Mould thanks to the detailed set design and were introduced to the show's characters, who were poor and plagued by an evil giant. 

We met characters like Jack and Jill, played by James Hastings and Aimee Cupper, whose singing made many speechless.

There was a particular buzz over Mr Hastings' song, I Need a Hero, which we imagine hit ranges only a few male singers can reach.

The baddie, Fleshcreep, played by Darryn Watkins, elicited the all-important pantomime boos from the audience - I certainly wouldn't wish to get on his bad side.

The children in the audience were especially spellbound by Silly Billy, played by Nathan Blyth, who had the younger audience grinning as soon as he stepped on the stage.

A personal favourite was Dorathea Trott, played by Ian Good, whose confidence and charisma are scene-stealing.

His interaction with the audience brought rumbles of laughter.

The leads were joined by a talented ensemble of dancers whose smiles reflected that of the audience.

If you are going to see one festive pantomime with your family this year, make it this one.