Behind the scenes: week one of Beauty and the Beast panto rehearsals

Marcus Bazley is JMK Assistant Director on this year’s Salisbury Playhouse pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. Here he gives us a glimpse inside the rehearsal room in week one of rehearsals.

So panto season has begun and we’ve had a fantastic start to Beauty and the Beast rehearsals here in Salisbury. We started the week with a team breakfast in town which was a lovely, informal way for everyone to meet, have a laugh and get fuelled up for the busy couple of months ahead! There are always a few nerves around on the first day of rehearsals but this was a great way of easing us all into the process and building a group dynamic.

After breakfast, we headed over to the rehearsal room for a big meet and greet with the rest of the Salisbury building. The Salisbury Playhouse is undoubtedly one of the most welcoming buildings I have ever worked in and I immediately felt like we were part of the Wiltshire Creative family! This was also the first time I had truly appreciated what a huge undertaking the creation of this show is – the rehearsal room was filled with the staff who are all, in one way or another, making Beauty and the Beast happen.

A tour of the building followed, before the cast and creative team sat down for a read through of the script. I had really enjoyed working through the script myself as I prepared for rehearsals but hearing the cast throw themselves into their parts from day one was a real joy. And very funny! Immediately we were all laughing together and, if any first day nerves were still lingering, they were soon quelled!

After lunch, we gathered together for the model box showing. This is where the designer presents a scale model of the design for the show – essentially an incredibly detailed Beauty and the Beast dolls-house! The design is truly stunning and there were lots of “oohs” and “aaahs” as James Button (designer) revealed various elements of set and costume to us for the first time.

Model box

Beauty and the Beast set design


Since then, Salisbury has become a hive of activity with the team dividing up to get everything rehearsed in time. We’ve spread ourselves across the whole building (and even over the city to Salisbury Arts Centre). A show like this has so many elements, so one section of the company will be working on music, while others are in another room working on choreography and others are in another room working on scenes. It really feels like a big machine has whirred into life – even if that machine is a big pink glittery one…

Beauty and the Beast, The Spellbinding Pantomime runs in the Main House of Salisbury Playhouse from Saturday 1 December to Sunday 13 January 2019. For more information and tickets, visit

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