If the opening night of the Aldershot pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk is anything to go by, then the show is going to be a real giant killer.

The Princes Hall was packed for the News-sponsored evening and the hard work of the cast, production team and staff really paid off.

The hall has built up a fantastic reputation over the years by offering a great family show for a fraction of the price of big-name events.

Aside from children's TV regulars Bodger and Badger, there are no household names on the cast list. But don't be surprised if you see a lot more of the stars at Saturday night's performance in future. They certainly have the talent to go far.

As in previous years, the opening night was packed with families who had taken up the News reader offer for cut-price tickets.

At the opening night party after the show, David Phillips, the newly appointed principal arts and cultural officer, was clearly delighted with how things had gone.

He told VIP guests, including Rushmoor's mayor Coun Charles Choudhary and the News' marketing director Trevor Fisher, that it had been one of the best selling pantomimes in the hall's history. He paid tribute to everyone from the stagehands to the leading cast members.

REVIEW - by James Taylor

CHILDREN are the best critics of any panto and their screams of laughter and delight on Saturday proved this one is a big hit.

There was a party atmosphere even before Badger poked his head around the stage curtain to open the performance.

The excitement grew and it wasn't long before even the mums and dads were joining in with the songs and shouting "oh no it isn't!" and "behind you!".

Producer and director Robert Hopkins has written another great script with a few twists. For instance real-life wannabe pop star Mark F, as Jack, is persuaded to swap the family cow for a bag of beans and a phoney recording contract.

And, without giving too much away, the giant (who looks suspiciously like an overweight Osama bin Laden) does not necessarily meet with a fatal fall.

The show is pacy with plenty of song and dance numbers and the leading ladies are stunning (dads take note).

Melanie Marcus as Fairy Moonbeam and Melitsa Nicola as Princess Kylie are both fantastic singers.

There are countless laughs from the brilliant Ricky and Robert, pantomime dame Simon Howe Dame Trott and, of course, Bodger and Badger. In fact it is a hard show to fault.

It is billed as "The Region's Best Value Professional Pantomime". Anyone who has seen the show already knows that a great family night out doesn't have to cost a bag of beans.

*Tickets are available from the Princes Hall box office on 01252 329155.

A family ticket for four (two adults and two children or one adult and three children) costs £33, otherwise adults £9.50, children and concessions £8.50.

The show runs until January 5.