THE Bristol Hippodrome was brought to life with Christmas cheer by the cast of Cinderella who captured the festive spirit of panto perfectly.

Children and parents alike got lost in a fairytale world as Cinderella defied her ugly sisters to go to the Royal Ball and eventually marry her Prince Charming in the classic happily ever after story.

King of the pantomimes Brian Conley had the audience in stitches as he took on the role of Buttons, Cinderella's best friend who ends up falling for her.

He engaged with the crowds and created a real friendship with the younger members of the audience who cheered him on through out the performance.

Mr Conley's talent as a comedic actor was apparent through out, although especially at the end of the performance as he brought children up on stage and improvised flawlessly with the script and his jokes.

His vocals were also flawless, something that you very rarely see in a pantomime or any theatre production.

Fashionista TV star Gok Wan was another audience favourite as the camp Fairy Gokmother, giving Cinderella the all important makeover for the Royal Ball.

Wearing an all glitter suit and cape, The Fairy Gokmother would appear as if from nowhere as a puff of smoke was set off on stage, much to the boys' and girls' amazement.

At the end of the first act Cinderella was sent off to the Royal Ball in her magical pumpkin carriage pulled by mechanical white horses.

The effect of the pumpkin carriage and horses flying right over the heads of the audience with Cinderella waving out of the window was absolutely magical, and both children and parents watched in awe.

Cinderella herself was played by Lauren Hall, who has appeared as a principle in nine other pantomimes with the theatre company Qdos Entertainment.

Her vocals were impressive and she portrayed her innocent character very well. She got an extra-special cheer at the end of the show when the audience were told that it was her birthday.

Despite a slight miss-timing when magically changing from her rags into her ball gown behind a puff of smoke, she won the hearts of the audience who were routing for Cinderella's happily ever after with her Prince Charming.

Tess and Claudia, otherwise known as the two ugly sisters, played by Ben Stock and Neal Wright were comedy gold, adopting the distinctive Bristol accent hilariously.

Every costume which the two sisters wore was colourful, ugly and wonderfully over the top. The audience broke into laughter every time they appeared on stage in yet another ridiculously outrageous outfit.

As we left the theatre many children were still dancing away to the finale along with the cast.

This was an experience which is a memory that every child in the audience will share with their family and treasure for many years, and to quote Mr Conley, that is the magic of pantomime.

Amy Pantall