LOVE conquers all and that’s the way it should always be in pantoland.

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But there was more than a touch of romance at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, with the opening of last night’s run of Rapunzel and the Rascal Prince.

It had everything that you would want from a family production, including a wonderfully created fire-breathing, scarey monster.

Song, dance, comedy, the obligatory audience participation, fantastic scenery, colourful and at times totally outrageous costumes, and a great cast.

This is a show that will delight those aged from eight to 80. In fact it’s “well wicked” as the rapping Prince Rapscallion would tell you.

And the glorious panto dame in the shape of Steve Wickenden, as Hyacinth Horseradish, steals the show and will have you chuckling in delight with the gags and one-liners coming thick and fast.

The action centres round a little village which has run out of life-giving herbs.

Out of desperation the beautiful Rapunzel’s father sneaks into Ragwort the witch’s herb garden but he’s caught. She threatens the village with extinction unless they give her their lovely daughter.

What do they do? Who can save Rapunzel?

The only poeple around to help are Hyacinth and a wise old owl called Sage.

Rapunzel is taken away by the witch who locks her up in a tower and the only way to reach her is by climbing up her long hair.

Years and years pass by with mother and father getting sadder and sadder, the witch getting badder and badder and Hyacinth getting madder and madder.

But the handsome Prince rides by and hears Rapunzel singing from her tower and love comes to save the day.

Well known songs litter the show and their version of the 12 days of Christmas is hilarious ... particularly the first day.

Remember to shout out “Greedy Weed” as often as possible and sing out loudly to Breadicake for the Weddicake. I know it’s crazy but so infectious.

And don’t be too offended if you’re from Ipswich or Norwich as you might come in for some mickey taking.

The cast of Aiden Crawford (Prince Rapscallion), Jasmine Gur (Rapunzel), Joanne Heywood (Ragwort), Mike Onslow (leader of the council and Sir Stephen), Andrew Pepper (Sage), Nerine Skinner (Sorrel/Rosemary), Alex Wadham (Ginger/Parsley) and of course Steve Wickenden (Hyacinth) and the young junior chorus are a sheer delight with their energetic actions.

It’s all bought together seamlessley from the keyboards of Chris Huntley and the drums of Oscar Reynolds along with the back stage team led by director Abigail Anderson.

Rupunzel and the Rascal Prince, is sponsored by Premier Printers Ltd with media partners the East Anglian Daily Times and the Bury St Edmunds Mercury, and runs until January 13.

For tickets call the box office on 01284 769505 or email booking@theatreroyal.org

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