Playhouse, Whitley Bay

LIKE all good pantos, this cast is well established and works as a team, accommodating a guest 'star'.

In this case the star was nationally-acclaimed dancer Louie Spence as the Fairy Godfather, who pirouetted and minced throughout this joyous production featuring a downtrodden girl (Cinderella) whose real-life Prince rescues her from drudgery.

The Northern Echo: Cinderella is at Whitley Bay Playhouse until January 6

Steve Walls – whose 13th year this is – plays Buttons and leads his gang on a quest to make his best friend, Cinderella (Jessica Lilley), happy.

Constantly cracking jokes, Buttons is a real hero, forgoing his love for Cinderella so she can marry her Prince Charming (Jacob Beresford). Ahhhhhhhhhh.

From the set to the wonderful costumes, singing and dancing, this is a top-notch production.

The first half unfurls like a play, with exposition containing lots of singing, dancing and comedy courtesy of Buttons, Cinderella's two nasty half-sisters – Patsy and Idena Hardup (Daniel Mawston and Luke Martin) – and funsters Nul & Void (Keith and Ben Simmons), who also play The Prince's Footmen.

The Northern Echo: Cinderella (Jessica Lilley) and Prince Charming (Jacob Beresford)

Part two really picks up momentum. A magic box routine, with swords, by Nul & Void is a funny comedy hors-d'œuvre for the classic set pieces of The 12 Days of Christmas and the Ghost scene, both of which had children of all ages animated and laughing: the latter resulting in full-bodied shouting and pointing in the direction from which the ghost had departed the stage.

This panto, more than any I've had the pleasure of reviewing, is a team effort and this year it was the turn of star turn Louie Spence to bring his big personality to the Whitley Bay stage. His energy and enthusiasm were enthralling.

The Northern Echo: Louie Spence stars as the Fairy Godfather

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Aged 55, Spence still has it. With a smile, a flick of his head and a twist of his hips, his feet would go into a collaborative flit, shimmying him across the floor like a syncopated tornado as he pirouetted and spun – and even doing a back flip for an encore!

Rather than copy Louie's exertions, the crowd stood and sang along at the finale.

Cinderella is at Playhouse, Whitley Bay until Saturday, January 6. Visit for tickets.

Ed Waugh