THE clock is about to strike midnight! It’s time for the Upstagers annual pantomime to return to the King’s Hall in Ilkley for the 36th year.

There will be ten performances in all including three matinees between January 27th and February 4th.

This year it is the pantomime of all pantomimes, the ever popular tale of Cinderella that is getting the fun filled, Upstagers family treatment. It’s time to put aside thoughts of grey weather, heating bills and economic woes and enjoy some time with extravagant characters, magnificent musical routines, daft jokes and lots and lots of fun.

The show is a telling of the classic tale of Cinderella, a story that can be traced back hundreds of years, but in its modern form became popular after Charles Perrault included his tale of Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper in his book of fairy tales back in 1697.

Over the years the story has adapted in to the one we all know and love about a down trodden girl with a kind heart whose good nature and resilience through adversity is eventually rewarded and it remains as popular as ever. Glance at any form of artistic medium and you will soon come across a version of Cinderella, whether it is pantomime, musical theatre, opera, ballet, film or TV. It is a story, with it’s theme of kindness, that is timeless.

Upstagers have created a brand new pantomime version based firmly on the traditional tale that sees Cinderella living at Hardup Hall with her cruel and wicked stepmother and her brash and mean stepsisters who are insanely jealous of her beauty and kind heart. She is made to cook and clean and is treated like a slave by the terrible threesome.

Relief is at hand with her faithful best friend Buttons who, whilst being secretly in love with Cinders, just wants her to be happy. A chance encounter in the forest with an angsty but handsome Prince in disguise sees our Cinders fall head over heels in love. But if Cinderella thinks the journey to a happy ending is an easy one then she needs to reconsider!

Wharfedale Observer: Prince Charming Ruby HendryPrince Charming Ruby Hendry

Along the way our heroes encounter mayhem and dastardly deeds. After all, it wouldn’t be an Upstagers pantomime without some of that! But with the help of a magical fairy godmother and her best friend, Buttons, will Cinders find her happy ever after? All will be revealed in a show packed with family fun, amazing songs, spectacular dance routines and many, many terrible jokes. It is definitely a show not to be missed.

Reprising their hugely successful and award winning performances from past shows are Emily Brook as Cinderella and Ruby Hendry as Prince Charming, along with Ilkley’s favourite pantomime villain George Scaife and George Mitchell as the Ugly Sisters. Joey Wilby returns from a professional pantomime season on the South Coast and in Sheffield as Buttons and all are ably supported by an talented cast of local performers. It is set to be a spectacular production.

Wharfedale Observer: Cinderella (Emily Brook) and the Ugly Sisters George Scaife and George MitchellCinderella (Emily Brook) and the Ugly Sisters George Scaife and George Mitchell

The co-director of the show, Andrew Hewitt says: “We have another amazing show on the cards again this year. Cinderella is such an iconic pantomime and our production gives a huge nod to the pantomime traditions involved in such a classic, but we were also keen to add our own stamp to it to make sure it is relevant to today’s audience. As usual, the team have been working tirelessly to prepare for this show and I’ve been so impressed with the commitment and creativity that this group of people have shown me in bringing forward our vision. I’ve also never heard such laughter in the rehearsal studio which bodes well for our audiences! I’d urge everyone to come along to support our local performers and have a great time whilst having a great time.”

Upstagers will be supporting the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young during the pantomime run whose mission is to prevent sudden cardiac deaths in young people through awareness, screening and research.

Tickets for the pantomime are available on the Upstagers website, by calling 0333 666 3366 or by calling the local box office on 01943 607944 (restricted hours apply).