A MUCH-LOVED fairytale with a handful of modern twists is headed for Christchurch this panto season, as an award-winning theatre group returns to the town.

Highcliffe Charity Players (HCP) are staging traditional favourite Sleeping Beauty at the Regent Centre from January 27 to 30, billing the show as a "one-act pantomime of your dreams", with topical local references added in by resident writer Stephen Hutt.

As usual the group, which hasn't performed this particular panto for more than a decade, will be donating all profits from the show to local charities. In its 50-year history, HCP has raised more than £200,000 for good causes.

Chairman Georgina Smith said: “In the current climate, we have chosen to stick with the one-act format for now. But never fear, it will still have all the usual ingredients that have made HCP pantos a favourite with all the family.”

The story unfolds with Princess Beauty’s christening – the perfect day until the wicked fairy Carabosse arrives uninvited. In revenge he casts a spell that the Princess will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die by her 21st birthday. Though unable to break this evil magic, the good Fairy sends the Princess to sleep for 100 years instead. Can an heroic Prince save the day? Perhaps a true love's kiss is the answer?

Cast include Georgina Carter, 23, making her HCP debut as Princess Beauty, group regular Beth Chumley as Prince Phillip the First, and stalwart Paul Barrington as larger-than-life dame, Queen Camilla Parker-Bike, with Stanley Smith as Carabosse, becoming one of HCP's youngest villains at the age of 21.

Matthew Smith returns to direct, alongside choreographer Tilly Ingle, with the group's musical director Stuart Darling heading a live panto band.

Tickets are available from regentcentre.co.uk or from 01202 499199.