REVIEW: Cinderella, Whitley Bay Playhouse, until January 7
Magic, music, merriment and much more - Cinderella is a panto where, just like the girl who goes from rags to riches, you are guaranteed to have a ball!
It's billed as 'the most magical pantomime of them all' and this year's Playhouse panto certainly doesn't disappoint.
The songs are great, the gags fast and furious, the magical scenes enchanting (look out for Marley the adorable pony who will melt your heart) and the whole experience a fantastic one from start to finish.
Back on stage for an eighth year running, local lad Steve Walls once again anchors the production as Buttons. Walls in panto is fast becoming just as much of a Whitley Bay institution as St Mary's Lighthouse - and he shines just as brightly as the loveable character who hopes to win the heart of Cinderella - sweetly played by Jessica Pease - only to lose out in the romantic stakes to the dashing Prince Charming who you will instantly recognise as Brookside star and former X Factor finalist Ray Quinn. Less a prince, more King of Swing as he confidently struts across the stage.
Old panto favourites - including the Ghostbusters singalong spooky scene - return with gusto and the supporting cast all play their part in delivering a side-splitting slice of family fun., from Ben Hanson as the Prince's hapless sidekick Dandini, to David Burton as Baron Hardup and the enchanting Emily Fletcher as Fairy Godmother.
But a special mention must go to the dastardly double act of Damian Patton and Tom Rolfe as the 'ugly sisters' Mercedes and Porsche. With their outrageous costumes and saucy humour that could come straight from, appropriately enough,a seaside postcard, they have the audience howling with both laughter and derision throughout. No spoilers - but the scene where they cram in as many songs as possible in two minutes is worth seeing alone.
Cinderella may have had to leave the ball early but there's no danger of this panto party coming to an abrupt end. It provides hours of enjoyment culminating in an upbeat musical medley that leaves you wanting more.
You don't need a fairy godmother to whisk you off to Whitley Bay but you'll feel like a pumpkin if you miss this show...
* For tickets, call 0844 248 1588 or visit www.whitleybayplayhouse.co.uk