At the end of a very difficult year for everyone, a trip to the theatre for some festive panto fun is something we could all do with right now.

And while many theatres have decided to stay shut as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Theatre Royal Windsor was confident it could provide extra safe family entertainment with its 2020 production Cinderella.

It was always going to be a challenge to put a panto on safely this year – but the Theatre Royal did a stellar job.

As someone who has taken the coronavirus restrictions very seriously since the beginning, I was a little apprehensive about heading to a theatre and surrounding myself with strangers after months of keeping to myself. But my fears were allayed even before we arrived.

The theatre sent out detailed information about the coronavirus restrictions in place and has staggered arrival times to minimise any close contact among visitors.

My partner and I arrived at 6.50pm and were greeted by a cheerful member of staff who reminded us to keep our masks on at all times (unless eating or drinking) and to ‘check in’ to the venue via the NHS Covid app.

We were shown to our seats and I was pleased to see that each booked group was suitably spaced apart and we could order snacks and drinks to be delivered, reducing the risk of having to mix with people from other households.

As we settled into our seats, the excitement of experiencing the much-missed atmosphere of the theatre once again after a tough year was building.

With an auditorium half full, I was interested to see if the actors would be able to recreate the magic we have come to know, love and expect from a Windsor panto.

But comedy duo Kevin Cruise (Buttons) and Steven Blakeley (who wrote the show and starred in it as Lavitia) had it all in hand – it is, after all, their 11th year in panto together at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

Alongside fan favourite Basil Brush as Baron Hardup, Strictly finalist and magic icon Debbie McGee as Fairy Twinkletoes and a string of new faces including Alice Fillary as Cinderella and Dominic Sibanda as Prince Charming, they put on a magical show for all.

The cast was naturally a lot smaller this year, but with their energy, dazzling vocals and spectacular costumes and sets, you barely noticed.

The audience was discouraged from shouting out as you normally would at panto, but don’t worry – the youngsters can still take part by clapping and stamping their feet instead.

There are plenty of very topical adult jokes for older members of the audience to enjoy, and you’ll even recognise some classic songs that have been given a contemporary twist.

And fear not – the fan favourite ‘12 Days of Christmas’ song makes a hilarious and chaotic return.

Steven Blakeley has done an admirable job of tweaking the script to reflect our current challenges in a light-hearted way and even managed to include a heart-warming tribute to our brave keyworkers.

There were a few forgotten lines, but all in all, Cinderella is a must-see this festive season - a fantastic family-friendly (and safe) evening out.

In a year where we all really could do with a laugh more than ever before, Theatre Royal Windsor’s Cinderella production was just what was needed to lift our spirits - we left with huge smiles on our faces.

There are plenty of showings between now and December 29, but tickets are selling fast – book your seats online now at or call the box office on 01753 853 888.

Tickets are available from £17 and family tickets can also be purchased.