Kings Langley Players - Cinderella****

In other hands, this rags-to-riches fairytale could have been stale from overfamiliarity.

But while the pumpkin and glass slipper remained integral to the story, it was the excellent script, direction and enthusiasm from the cast that ensured this pantomime ended happily ever after.

The classic story saw Cinders (Sophie Dowling) transform from rag girl to princess before losing her glass slipper, leading Prince Charming (Cat Bassett) on a search for his true love.

Aided by Baron Hardup (Victor Amswych), Ron the Brokers’ Man (Michael Goane), Buttons (Jamie Yates) and Dandini (Sally-Anne Rafferty), the action rolled along thick and fast as the Players brought Chris Jordan’s script to life, packed with jokes aimed at both kids and the older members of the audience.

It was the ugly sisters, however, with an array of increasingly eye-watering costume changes, who led the laughs. Their all-consuming hunt for a man became more desperate as the panto raced towards its happy conclusion.

In one set-piece, a trip to the local branch of health spa chain Chumpneys led to some excellent visual gags, particularly when the sisters, played by Robin Piper and Mike Crow, spent too long in the steam room.

The show flowed smoothly through Andrew Knight’s direction, with the audience in fine fettle during the sing-along finale. Though the festive season may be a distant memory, the Players provided more than enough entertainment to banish the January blues.

Michael Pickard

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