You know the story of Cinderella and how she met her Prince Charming, right?

Well, yes, up to a point, but if you're off to see Cinderella at The Courtyard, you'll find the classic fairytale has been given a twist or two and a thoroughly contemporary theme.

Which is to be expected from writer Lyndsay Maples and director Estelle van Warmelo, who, though obviously lovers of panto, can always be relied on to push the envelope to say something a little more meaningful ...

In this iteration, it turns out that Cinders and her Prince (Rory McCollum) are destined for each other, soul mates in the making, not for their stereotypical fairy tale qualities, but thanks to their shared passion for the natural world ... and the galaxies beyond.

And living happily ever after in wedded bliss is less of a goal than saving the planet.

This very 21st century couple's role models are Greta Thunberg and Brian Cox, and there's not a lot of Disney princess in Isabella Rubin's feisty Cinderella!

Instead, she's a woman who knows her own mind, has the strength to say 'no', even - especially - to her wicked stepmother and her bossy ugly sisters, and values loyalty and kindness more than social media and selfies.

But panto wouldn't be panto without deliciously sparkly costumes, tick, energetic routines from four talented dancers (outstanding thanks to choreography by Dane Bates), tick, the Ugly Sisters' irresistible comedy double act - James Witt as Fousty and Courtyard panto regular Ellis Kerkhoven as Fidge - tick, and a bit of Morris dancing.

Morris dancing? Well, it is Herefordshire and I swear that wassailing got a mention too, as well as the clever interjection of some of the county's idiosyncratic village names - Didley and Madley won't sound the same again.

Emily Louise Connor gave us a warm and engaging Fairy Godmother, while Melanie Stevens was clearly having the time of her life as Cinders's Wicked Stepmother, a slave to her beauty regime and snarling to perfection.

The Courtyard is justifiably proud of its annual panto, full of all the things we love - from sweet throwing to slapstick, glitz to glamour and an audience singalong - at the same time as it gently nudges us in the direction of something a little more thought-provoking - and without a single big name off the telly in sight.

Here's a Cinderella who wants to change the world, and who knows that while it's nice to be important, it's more important to be nice.

Cinderella runs at The Courtyard until January 11. To book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit