A PANDA adds a touch of animal magic when a traditional panto takes the stage in Darlington next week.

A cast of 40 from St Augustine's Repertory Society (Stars) is busy putting the finishing touches to The Sleeping Beauty, which producer Malcolm Frank describes as a fairy-tale mix of song, dance and laughter.

"The panda is a bit of theatrical licence," he said. "It is Sleeping Beauty's pet and comes alive to help her to find her prince."

The show, with musical direction by Sue Wellum, opens in St Augustine's Parish Centre, Larchfield Street, next Tuesday and runs for four nights at 7.30pm, followed by two shows on the Saturday at 2pm and 7.45pm.

The Friday and Saturday shows are already sold out but tickets (£4 and £3 concessions) are available for the other nights from Williams the Music People in Blackwellgate and the Tourist Information Centre in Horsemarket.