Cinderella at The Castle Theatre in Wellingborough has got the X Factor
There is something quite special about Cinderella at The Castle Theatre in Wellingborough this Christmas.
I've sent plenty of pantomimes and Christmas shows in the 10 years since I became a dad. Some of been great, some cringeworthy.
Some producers have clearly spent more on the big name star who then just goes through the motions than on the production values and script.
Others have become little more than an excuse for relentless crude humour that has no place in what should be a family show. Yes, innuendo is part of pantomime, but some script writers seen to forget who they should be aiming their shows at.
Thankfully, and not at all surprisingly, this is not the case with Cinderella.
Yes, there are stars who you will know from television, and yes there are some risque gags, but this seemed to me to be a show with real heart played out by a cast who genuinely seemed to be enjoying their work.
Acting and performing is a job, but it is also a passion and a life. Those on stage at The Castle Theatre seemed to be having fun, and that joy transmitted itself to the audience.
This is a show with great big musical numbers, superb production values and some genuinely funny jokes with local people and places as their crowd-pleasing targets. The Hemmingwell estate, Corby, Kettering and Northampton are among those who are the butt of the many jokes.
Chief among those cracking the gags was the real star of the show, Dean Winters as Buttons.
Cinderella may be the heroine and Prince Charming the hero, but it is Buttons that is the heartbeat of any production of this particular pantomime. And what a strong heartbeat Dean Winters provides with his quick wit, great comic timing and endearing personality.
Former X Factor finalist Christopher Maloney is superb as Prince Charming, exercising his fine voice on many occasions. His singing prowess is superb, but Cinderella Amy Cooper and Fairy Godmother Catherine Millsom more than hold their own alongside him.
Special mention to Wellingborough's own Gary L Johnson, who is a superb Dandini and the ensemble dancers drawn from the local community, who are superb.
This is a fun, family pantomime with everything you would expect from a festive night out, and more.
You could even say it has got the X Factor....
Tickets priced from Â£12 to Â£23 depending on date and view.
For tickets call 01933 270007 or visit www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre