One Principal Boy is a rare treat nowadays – but two of them - A contented sigh at my elbow indicated that Ofpants could scarcely believe his eyes, or his luck, as Prince Charming (Lisa Mathieson) and Dandini (Natalie Tulloch) strode on stage in teensy wee frock coats and knee-high boots then, with jaunty synchronicity, slapped their thighs as they ended a tuneful duet.

More satisfaction arrived in the luridly grotesque shape of the Ugly Sisters: Flatula (Steven Wren) and Verucca (Craig Glover) were a sparring partnership whose joshing rivalry translated into fun and flouncings for all ages. Their nippy-sweetie exchanges packed in plenty of crafty puns – and if the littlest panto-goers sometimes missed the finer details of the repartee, they were hugely entertained by the antics in the Haunted Boudoir and the plentiful dollops of gungy slapstick – with Buttons getting the gloop, and roars of glee from row on row of his new chums in the stalls and circle.

Ah yes, Buttons. This is Liam Dolan's seventh consecutive stint in panto here – he now directs as well as acting the lovable galoot, and in both guises he brilliantly succeeds in keeping core traditions alive and zesty for modern audiences. His silly-billy Buttons could easily steal the show, but instead he sets a high standard for others to match, and lets them have their place in the story and the spotlight.

Ofpants busily ticked off other plus points: a winsome Cinders (Ashley Bruce), a warm-hearted Fairy (Jane McCarry), well-sung musical numbers and lots of audience participation - His verdict? With a slap of his own thigh, he declared it a really great family panto.