GAZING around the Oldham Coliseum auditorium makes you realise magic isn't just for fairytales - panto magic that is.

The power of pantomime has been enchanting generation after generation of families and in what is now a fast-paced recreation era where social interaction is available at the swipe of a screen and touch of a button, the draw this most traditional form of entertainment still has is impressive.

Cinderella opened to a packed out house of enthusiastic panto-goers, some of who will, no doubt, have already booked tickets for next year's offering, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Always original and always unique, the fact the Coliseum pantomime is adored and appreciated by young and old alike is testament to the exceptional writing talents of chief executive and artistic director Kevin Shaw and Fine Time Fontayne. Year-on-year they manage to mix all the essential ingredients together to cast a spell on the audience.

Fine Time dusted off his regular role as dame with gusto and this year it was twice as nice - or more like double trouble - with this age-old tale presenting the opportunity for a gruesome twosome as the Ugly Sisters.

Simeon Truby was the trump to Fine Time's pump - Trumpy and Pumpy Squeezepocket - as the sassy siblings emitted a fabulously funny festival of flatulence which particularly amused the younger members of the audience.

Sue Devaney - famed for her numerous TV roles including Victoria Wood's Dinner Ladies and a firm Coliseum stage favourite - was divinely devilish as their doting mother and Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Countess Vyella Squeezepocket.

Her stunning stage presence, hilarity and spot-on vocal talents elevated this year's show to another level.

A coliseum panto without Richard J Fletcher would be akin to leaving the pigs in blankets and bread sauce off the Christmas dinner table - THE most essential accompaniment in my opinion.

He shines brightly, as always, as Buttons, in another of his endearing roles which always find a soft-spot in the hearts of the audience, not to mention his much-anticipated Norman Wisdom-style, high-energy slapstick.

Look out for some superbly choreographed show-stoppers which see Baron Boothy Mothwallet of Boaracic Manor - played by Mitesh Soni - on the receiving end of a few clouts from Trumpy Squeeezepocket and a slo-mo fight scene over the crystal shoe (glass slipper to traditionalists).

Shorelle Hepkin - who was Alice in 2017's Dick Whittington - plays Cinderella, Chante Faucher is her Prince Charming and Nisha Anil takes on dual roles as the Fairy Godmother and Dandini - the opportunity to joke why there's always a character missing when the full cast are on stage is never wasted.

Songs are a blend of chart-toppers and classics and references to the odd Youtuber, social media and tech trends keep it bang up-to-date for the younger crowd - "Alexa, order me an Uber!"

The chorus of local dancers keeps up the on-stage tempo and, as always, the costumes - particularly the dames - are always a feast for the eyes and this year included waffles, ice cream cones and baked beans on toast.

You can tell this is a meeting of old friends for the cast and they have immense fun in bringing some seasonal sparkle.

This will be the last panto in his role as the theatre's chief executive for Kevin Shaw after he announced his departure after 17 years.

He's sure to have a tear in his eye when it ends on January 12, even if he blames it on the fairy dust.

For tickets call the box office on 0161 624 2829 or go to