On a dark, wet, winter night, I really wanted to curl up warm at home. I fought my ‘hibernating bear’ instinct and ventured out to Theatre Royal Windsor’s Pantomime; Aladdin. I’m ever so glad I did.

It is a sheer delight from start to finish, a true celebration of the best of theatre. In the tradition of classic Panto, there’s something to please everyone whatever your age. Youngster, Joe Thompson-Oubari charms the audience as Aladdin with his energy and enthusiasm. Newcomer, Rhiannon Bacchus gives us a shy Princess Jasmine who reveals an impressively powerful vocal punch in her solo numbers. The older members of the audience will remember evil baddie Paul Nicholas as Vince from Just Good Friends. He hasn’t lost his cheeky chappie allure. He’s clearly thoroughly enjoying himself as he growls and grimaces through his part as the villainous Abanazar.

Marti Webb is assured and confident as the regal Empress Huawei. If you’re of a certain age, you might recall her rise to fame singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hits. The evocative power of her voice hasn’t lost its clout. She brings poignant relevance to Abba’s “Slipping through my fingers”, a song familiar to fans of the musical, Mamma Mia.

The costumes are by turns dazzling and ridiculous, especially Widow Twankey’s oversized dress with large portions of chips on his shoulders. Panto Dame, Steven Blakeley’s eye wateringly colourful outfits are as hilarious as his pistol-quick delivery and versatile facial expressions. Blakeley is also the script writer and what a sterling job he’s done this year. It takes a high level of intelligence and wit to combine topical satire with utter silliness, to appeal to a chortling audience of children but also tickle the adults with naughty asides.

Kevin Cruise enjoys a decade in the Windsor Panto this year. His tour-de-force performance as the loveable Wishee-Washee has the Windsor audience eating from the palm of his hand. Blakeley enjoyed his tenth year here last year. These two present a formidable comedy double act, bouncing of each other with an infectious camaraderie and affection. Although the love story between Aladdin and Jasmine is sweet, the real connection at the heart of this Panto is the bromance between Cruise and Blakeley. It’s big hearted enough to encompass the whole audience. We cheered and laughed as they danced together – it was a fabulous sight to see!

Annual Windsor Panto goers will not be disappointed. All your favourite bits are here with jingling bells on. The breath taking speed of the Twelve days of Christmas, music across the decades getting you into the party mood, beautifully choreographed dance numbers, the cute little kids and the lively audience participation all add up to an experience that sparkles with magic. If you haven’t booked yet – what are you waiting for? Don’t miss it!