It's that time of year again - panto season! And with that, one of the most hotly-anticipated shows in the region: Richmond Georgian Theatre Royal's Rapunzel.

People book their tickets months in advance for this pantomime, and it has a strong local, national and international following thanks in part to the sense of community it inspires with the annual knitting challenge.

This year, it was various knitted vegetables – which the audience has to lob at the baddies towards the end of the performance. Always incredibly satisfying!

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This year's offering, Rapunzel, is introduced with the story of a beautiful young woman who lives in an enchanted garden, whose strawberries give her eternal youth.

However, Desiree Spud entered the garden, stole her strawberries and – long story short – original garden owner Mother Gothel, played by Paige Rochelle, gets revenge by stealing Desiree Spud's baby Rapunzel and hiding her away in a tower for 23 years.

In the meantime, Desiree Spud opens a vegetable shop and cafe, and along with Robin Hood-inspired character Jimmy 'Prince' Charming, who steals veg from the rich to help feed the poor, they embark on a quest to find long-lost Rapunzel, played by Rebecca Huish.

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Detective Febreeze, played by Georgian panto newcomer Nigel Fyfe, was soon on the case – having agreed to stop hunting for Jimmy Charming for the time being – and together they hunt the evil Mother Gothel.

Rochelle made for a hilariously creepy evil queen, with a perfect cackle and a penchant for bursting into Cher songs. She even reminded the audience to boo her when we were a bit slow off the mark.

The pantomime also features some familiar faces, with Panto Dame Nick O'Connor returning as Desiree Spud, and Marcus Jones as Jimmy 'Prince' Charming.

O'Connor has his Dame down to an art – he is warm, funny, ridiculous, and super-quick to react with quips to the audience. His Liverpudlian accent adds to the warmth of his character, and all of his scenes are highlights.

Georgian panto audiences will be pleased to see the talented Jones return as Jimmy Charming, and he and O'Connor are now expert in playing off each other. Jones has great comic timing and epitomises a cheeky but charming lead boy to provide a romantic moment with Rebecca Huish's Rapunzel.

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Comedy highlights included Rapunzel bashing the entire of the rest of the cast over the head with a frying pan – my six-year-old son's personal favourite moment which had him howling with laughter; and O'Connor pulling an unsuspecting man from the audience to help them infiltrate Rapunzel's tower.

There was the obligatory Tunnock's Teacake throwing into the audience, and knitted vegetable throwing at Mother Gothel. There was plenty of singing along, fantastic dancing and jokes from the ever-excellent youth theatre members, and ridiculous slapstick comedy. Another festive winner from the Georgian.

Rapunzel runs at The Georgian Theatre Royal until Sunday, January 7, 2024. Tickets from £15 are available from the Box Office on 01748-825252 or via the online booking service at