When it comes to Christmas pantos, you expect certain things - singing and dancing, a healthy dose of slapstick, an active part in the revelry yourself, and a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when all is said and done.
When all of these elements fuse to create an irresistible chemistry it is something to behold, and this reviewer would suggest that Cinderella at the Beck has that extra spark that marks it apart.
To come first to main attraction, the star; Joe McElderry.
Winner of the X-Factor in 2009 (yes, the year the show's Christmas chart dominance was toppled by a social media campaign which saw Rage Against The Machine take the number one spot), he has travelled all the way from his native North Shields in the north east of England to grace the Beck stage and fulfil an ambition to star in a pantomime.
While his acting chops are a work in progress, and fans might be left disappointed with his relative lack of stage time, his flawless singing voice has the emotion and power to keep an audience transfixed, and he more than fills Prince Charming's boots.
Victoria Farley's Cinderella is the object of his affection, and she is delightfully dainty and glowing as the downtrodden hero.
Turning to the rest of the cast, all seasoned West End performers, we have Shane Richie Jnr in the role of Buttons, Cinderella's confidante. The audience is duly inducted into his "gang" at the start, and he comperes proceedings in good humour, with a nod and a wink.
An experienced stage star in his own right, any aspersions that he is riding on his father's name should be cast aside. He has certainly a bit of his Richie senior's cheeky-chappy charm, and his interaction with the crowd is key to the show's success. He's can't half sing as well.
Jenny-Ann Topham's turn as the strutting Wicked Stepmother, with an assured scowl and mischievious glint in her eye, is excellent, and her introductory "Middlesex commoners" jibe ensured boos rang out whenever she entered the fray.
The ugly sisters, 'gusty' Gale and 'windy' Wendy, are a revelation. Nick Barclay and Howard Goosington god-awful pairing are wonderfully grotesque, and their courting of a certain Giorgio in the front row had everyone in stitches.
David Mulligan as Dandini, and Helen Colby as the Fairy Godmother ("Hey Go-Mo, whoop whoop") are also very good.
The performers are clearly having a whale of a time. On the odd occasion, the actors' straight faces slipped amid all the chaos and absurdity, but it only added to the sense of unadulterated merriment.
The song list, including 2013 hits by Daft Punk, One Direction, and an inevitable Gangnam Style rendition, had the younger members of the crowd squealing in delight.
Moments of drama and plot progression are broken up with skits involving good old-fashioned fun with Super Soakers (you have been warned), and silliness with giant inflatables.
The script is littered with topical jokes, all delivered with aplomb, and there are plenty of bawdy gags that will please grown-ups and harmlessly sail over childrens' heads.
For this too-cool-for-school panto newbie, at least, Cinderella was a sure-fire hoot that will leave you with a grin on your face long after the curtains have come down. Highly recommended family fun.
Cinderella is on at the Beck Theatre, in Grange Road, Hayes, until January 5 2014.
For tickets, show times and availability, call the box office on 020 8561 8371, or visit www.becktheatre.org.uk