AS pantomime season approaches the team at Salisbury Playhouse are working their magic to bring the show and its colourful characters to life.

Beauty and the Beast reunites the creative minds behind last year’s best-selling Playhouse pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, writer Andrew Pollard, director Ryan McBryde and designer James Button.

The famous fairytale Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Amorette who is taken prisoner by a prince who has been turned into a beast after a curse was cast upon him.

The pantomime is the Playhouse’s biggest production of the year and preparations start as early as spring with building work on the set design starting over the summer and continuing into the autumn.

The Playhouse has its own workshop on site where the practical elements of the production take shape.

Tim Reed, who is the head of the workshop, said: “We do all the building to scale models and building time takes roughly three months.”

“They [the director and designer] come together to discuss what the show needs,” explains Tim. “Together they come up with the design and from that we get a white card model.

“We work out how we are going to make it and how much it will cost.”

Once the final model has been devised the team can set to work. They also have drawings of the design they can work from.

“Not a lot of people realise we’re in here,” says Tim.

“It is quite rewarding seeing the audiences reaction. It is our biggest building of the year.”

Tim says the planning and building process takes much longer than standard productions.

He says: “Every pantomime here is built from scratch.”

The team try to revamp and reuse elements from previous shows where they can.

Meanwhile, in the wardrobe department, the colourful costumes are being sewed and stitched

Costume supervisor, Henrietta Worrall-Thompson, says: “We are here to provide all the costumes for our own in-house productions for Wiltshire Creative. Basically preparations for panto goes on for a long time. We start by buying fabric some time in about May when we have a bit of an idea. Obviously some of it is subject to change.”

She says the number of costumes needed vary and can be between 40 to 60.

“We get given a set of designs and bring it to life,” explains Henrietta. “Our job is to try and work out how to make it.”

“It is great fun but it is hard work, she adds. “Each year it’s a challenge but I enjoy doing it.

“Every pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast obviously have an element somewhere of transforming magically.

“Hopefully, the children look at it and come away thinking it is magic. If they can look at it and not see how we have created it that’s very satisfying.

“It is a lot of work but is satisfying to see it come together.”

Set and costume designer James Button was drawn to the production because of the setting in Paris.

“It’s one of the most beautifully designed, pristine cities and a city that I love visiting,” he said. “You only have to think of the grandeur of Versailles or the Louvre and it becomes easy to imagine worlds of magical castles and so on.

Salisbury favourite Richard Ede, who has previously appeared as Widow Twanky in Aladdin in 2016 and Dame Dorothy Trott in the award-winning Jack and the Beanstalk in 2017, returns as the dame.

Liberty Buckland, who appeared in last year’s Salisbury panto, also makes a return to the Main House stage as Amorette with Joseph Black as The Prince/Beast.

Completing the cast is Ralph Bogard, Helen Colby, Henry Lawes, Ashley Runeckles and Nerine Skinner.

Beauty and the Beast runs from December 1 until Sunday, January 13. An extra week was added to accommodate demand.

More than 12,000 tickets have already been sold. Tickets can be booked by calling 01722 320333 or by visiting