It’s that time of year again at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange- oh yes, it is

Official launch of this year's pantomime Cinderella at the Alive Corn Exchange in King's Lynn. Pictu

Official launch of this year's pantomime Cinderella at the Alive Corn Exchange in King's Lynn. Pictured are (from left) Scott Cripps (Buttons), Steven Kynman (Ugly Sister), Melissa Jane Fleming (Cinderella), Matt Lapinskas (Prince Charming), Ian Marr (Ugly Sister) and Posh Charles (Charles Dennett). Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Shoppers looked somewhat bemused as Cinders, Prince Charming, Buttons and the Ugly Sisters lined up in the sunshine for a photo call in the Tuesday Market Place today.

But you know Christmas is just around the corner when the Corn Exchange launches its annual panto.

Now in its seventh year, the festive show has grown to attract audiences of around 20,000 - and earned a reputation among performers for how enthusiastically theatre-goers young and old embrace all the old gags.

'I love the town, I love the theatre,' said director Ian Marr, who doubles as an ugly sister for the 20-day run of matinee, afternoon and evening performances.

'When we did our first panto here, there hadn't been a panto here before, so we've built it up over the last six years and it's got a really good following. Why would I want to go anywhere else?'

Among audiences packing out the venue will be coach parties from schools from Lynn and as far afield as Lincoln.

Simon McKenna, chief executive of Alive Leisure, which runs the Corn Exchange, said: 'The kids are absolutely bouncing, they love it.

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'I don't think people always understand the quality of shows we put on. People don't always appreciate what's on their doorstep.'

Eastenders and Dancing on Ice Star Matt Lapinskas said he was looking forward to seeing some of the medieval architecture in the old town a stone's throw from the venue - along with some audience reaction to his fourth panto appearance.

'Telly is great, but when you're doing it in front of the cameras you don't see the millions watching at home staring back at you,' he said.

For musical theatre student Melissa Jane Fleming, 23, who plays Cinderella, the panto will be her first chance to sample the limelight.

'I graduate in November so this was one of my first auditions,' she said. 'I'm really happy to be doing it, especially at Christmas.'

The show also stars Scott Cripps as Buttons, Steven Kynman as an ugly sister and KLFM's Charles Dennett, as Posh Charles.

The show opens after 10 days of rehearsals on Friday, December 9 (10am), with a final performance on Saturday, December 31 (2.30pm). All non-school tickets priced £14 or £20, depending on performances, or £19 conc.

Nina McKenna, Alive's director of culture and communications, said advance sales were already ahead of 2015, which was a record year when more than 21,000 came to see the panto. To book for this year's show, call 01553 764864 or click here.