SUMMER is still yet to arrive in Bolton, but the Albert Halls is already celebrating the launch of its much-anticipated Christmas pantomime Cinderella.

The show, produced by Duggie Chapman, once again features Crackerjack legend Stu Francis as Buttons, as well as international singing star Aston Dobson, from the Twelve Tenors, who is taking the lead role of Prince Charming.

Lucia Matisse, who is currently starring in the touring production of Bless ’Em All, will play downtrodden Cinderella, who dreams of being taken to the Prince’s ball, which her Fairy Godmother, played by Michelle Brown, arranges for her.

There will be a double whammy of comedy duos of Darrock and Howe, who will play the ugly sisters, and Bobby Ball’s sons Rob and Darren, aka The Harper Brothers, who will play brokersmen.

Mervyn Francis will also be back as Cinders’ father Baron Hardup, and Andy Eastwood, who is also supporting Ken Dodd at the Halls on Sunday, May 31, will play Dandini.

Stu “crush a grape” Francis said he cannot wait to start rehearsing.

“Yes, I’m back again,” he said. “I think they’re just going to keep bringing me back each year until I get it right.

“I’m playing Buttons and I’m already looking forward to it. Once again I will be throwing the spanner in the works by playing the village idiot, so I hope to raise a good few laughs.”

He added: “Cinderella is a very popular panto choice. It may only be April, but we’re already banging the drum — it’s all part of the build-up.

"It does seem strange, while the sun has started shining, to be talking about Christmas, but everyone loves a good pantomime.”

Chris Cordingley, the Albert Halls business development manager, said: “The pantomime in Bolton is a major event that the people of the town always look forward to seeing.

“This year we have a great cast, so hopefully the turnout will be as fantastic as it was last year.”

Cinderella will run from November 29 to January 4. Tickets are now on sale. Call the box office on 01204 334400 or visit the website