Johnny Vegas’ debut in St Helens pantomime

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The paparazzi were out in full force to snap this year's all-star cast at the lunchtime launch, which took place at Liverpool's Arthouse Hotel.

Press and guests were greeted with mince pies and mulled wine to set the yuletide mood as the host for the afternoon, The Guide presenter Jay Hynd, started off proceedings by introducing the full cast.

Leading this year's cast in the title role as Snow White is Coronation Street and Wild at Heart's Lucy-Jo Hudson.

The star this year competed in the ITV show Dance Dance Dance where she reached the final, and will no doubt bring her fancy footwork to the Theatre Royal stage this Christmas.

Lucy-Jo first appeared on TV screens as "killer Katy" in the ITV soap before spending five seasons in the hit drama Wild at Heart playing series lead Rosie Trevanion.

She then made her big screen debut in Ken Loach's acclaimed feature film Looking For Eric and recently played Rhiannon Davis in a long running and dramatic storyline in Doctors for the BBC.

With over fifteen years of gracing the nation's television screens, including as Geoff 'The Oracle' on ITV's Benidorm, St Helens' own born and bred comedy favourite Johnny Vegas will be revealing who the fairest of them all is as the Magic Mirror.

Johnny will be appearing via the power of video-projection, and does not appear in person each night. The star also revealed today that he will be donating his fee from the panto to Willowbrook Hospice, a charity organisation close to his heart.

Every panto needs a handsome hero and this year that will be LIPA graduate Jack

Rigby who is sure to break a heart or two as the Prince; Richard Hazlewood is back as Herman the Henchman; and providing lots of jovial hilarity will be Lewis Devine as Muddles.

Completing the all-star cast is the addition of seven real life dwarfs including mother and son Harry Potter actors Josh Bennet and Sarah Bennet; Danny Blackner who appeared in box office hits Star Wars VI - Return of The Jedi, Labyrinth and Muppet Treasure Island; Lucy Blenkiron, Jay Lusted who appeared in the BBC One Wales documentary Born Small: The Wedding; Charlote Lyons; and finally, Peter Sunter.

Throughout the afternoon guests got to hear from the cast with a Q+A lead by host Jay Hynd, before they put their panto knowledge to the test in a special Christmas panto quiz.

With Lucy-Jo and Johnny as team captains the two teams battled it out to be crowned the fairest panto pro of them all.

Theatre manager Chantelle Nolan said: “Today has been a great event and a real treat to bring all the cast together, it has made us all even more excited for the show to open!

“Panto always marks the start of Christmas, it is such a strong tradition especially to the audiences at St Helens Theatre Royal, so we always try to come back bigger and better each year. 2017 is going to be truly magical, we have an amazing cast and lots of surprises up our sleeve.”

This year, for the first time ever on the Theatre Royal stage, sees the introduction of an all new magical 3-D interactive scene.

The action will jump right off the stage and is guaranteed to leave audiences amazed. With real life dwarfs, magic mirrors, wicked queens and poisoned apples aplenty, you can expect all the slapstick comedy capers you have come to know and love from all Regal Entertainments’ pantos.

So be sure to book early and enjoy one the world’s best fairy tale classics this festive season.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs from Saturday, December 2 to Sunday, January 7 and tickets are on sale now.

Tickets from £11.