CINDERELLA tried on her new rags this week, nearly nine months before her opening night at the Gala Theatre's Christmas pantomime.

Kirsti McDonagh, 16, and Luck Gasper, are cast in the leading roles of Cinderella and Prince Charming.

They were transformed in their new costumes in the fairy-tale setting of Lumley Castle, near Chester-le-Street.

The theatre said it has shunned the usual tradition of netting big stars for the leading roles so it can plough the money back into the £250,000 production. The set alone has cost £160,000 and includes a range of special effects and real ponies.

Producer David Lee, who helped to put Shane Ritchie and Darren Day on the road to stardom, said he was very happy with the new stars.

Kirsti, from Blyth, is a first-year student at the Sage Academy of Performing Arts, in Newcastle.

Luck Gasper is a second-year drama student at Durham University.

In the months leading up to the opening night they will be given tuition by Andrew Rumble, top musical director for Copacabana in the West End.