ONCE upon a time there was a rather dodgy wolf who created a real song and dance about finding a tasty treat to eat.

But fear not, apparently he might not be the vulpine villain he's made out to be.

Seasonal showstoppers and Christmas crackers are blazing a festive trail of mirth and merriment across the region and for those who want a classic story with a fabulously fun and tuneful twist look no farther than Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre.

Running from Tuesday, December 19 until Sunday, December 31, Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf takes the tall tale of a young girl’s encounters with a wily wolf on her way to visit a poorly Grandma.

A collaboration between Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, Manchester’s Z-Arts and Action Transport in Cheshire, the show explores the thrill of adventure versus the safety and familiarity of ‘the path’ - and just how irresistible straying from it can be.

Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf is a cleverly-crafted moral fable that is both fun and thought-provoking, encompassing topical themes such as environmental sustainability and posing questions such as are the wolves really the villains in a world where the woodcutter is destroying the forest?

Z-Arts and Unity are both regarded as being among the most cutting-edge small-scale theatres in their respective cities with reputations for producing the best in fresh and modern theatre.

The show arrives at Kendal straight from its run in Manchester and the Brewery’s head of performing arts Mike Jones said they were delighted to be working with two vibrant big city theatres: “Little Red is a wonderful performance, full of fun and laughs for the little ones but with plenty to keep the ‘big kids’ happy as well.”

The cast includes Liz Jadav, who plays Mother and Woodcutter, Simone Lewis as the Grandma, Harvey Robinson takes the role of the Wolf and centre stage as Little Red is Luca Rutherford.

Unity Theatre artistic director and CEO, Matthew Linley added that they were really delighted to be working with such a talented group of actors: "What’s particularly exciting about this cast is their extraordinary breadth of experience - from the West End to clowning and alternative theatre.”

Box office 01539-725133 or visit www.breweryarts.co.uk.

The December 27, 2pm show will be a signed performance featuring a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter.

Meanwhile, running at The Forum theatre Barrow, until Saturday, December 30, Shone Productions stage Cinderella with Emily Dodd in the title role. Originally from Barrow, Emily has featured in a number of short films and music videos as well as performing around the country with the function band The Thatchers as lead vocals. Also having a ball will be comedy star Bill Sharpe as Buttons; singing sensation Cameron Patmore plays Prince Charming; the hilarious Aaron Alexander and Hugh O’Donnell take the parts of the Ugly Sisters; Sam Wearing is Dandini and Emily Childs adds a little more magic as Fairy Godmother.

Running until Saturday, December 30.

Box office 01229-820000.

Elsewhere, the tinsel-tinted show at Keswick's Theatre by the Lake is The Secret Garden.

Running until January 13, Olivier award-winning playwright Jessica Swale has adapted Frances Hodgson Burnett's popular children’s book for the stage with fabulous puppetry and live music set to an original score by Barnaby Race.

Box office 017687-74411.

Lancaster Footlights festive fable is Dick Whittington running at the Grand Theatre, Lancaster, on various dates until December 29, a fabulous and fun-filled traditional family pantomime brimming with music, dancing, jokes and lashings of laughter.

Box office 01524-64695.

Across Lancaster's fair city, Aladdin is on a fantastic flyer entertaining audiences at The Dukes until January 6.

Bursting with laughs, levity and live music, Aladdin and the Genie embark on a journey of discovery, danger and romance into a world where the carpets are magical and the wishes unlimited.

Playing Aladdin will be star of the ITV series Britannia High, Marcquelle Ward.

The Dukes box office 01524-598500.

Great songs, dazzling dance routines and enough jokes and jest to make your sides ache - not to mention a famous face or two - are in the festive mix at The Sands at Carlisle. Sleeping Beauty runs until December 31, with Carlisle-born Lee Brennan in right royal role of the Prince. Lee was a member of 911, who were one of only five acts in the 1990s to achieve ten consecutive UK top ten hit singles. Best known as the long-running character Heather Trott in Eastenders, Cheryl Fergison plays the evil fairy Carabosse and in the guise of the Dame once again will be local breakfast radio presenter and popular pantomime funny man Robbie Dee.

Box office 01228-633766.

Come January and the hi-jinx and hilarity continues with enough slapstick fun and comic moments to send you laughing all the way home in Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society's laughter-laden, traditional pantomime, running at The Bryce on January 5-7 and January 10-13.

Definitely not the Disney version, Ben Crocker's Beauty and the Beast follows Rose (aka Beauty) who falls for the Beast. The knockabout panto also stars Felix, a giant French poodle, complete with French accent. Lakeland Radio's Simon Yaxley plays the fluffy canine; Vicky Edge is Jacques, Beauty's brother; Jen Armitstead plays Capucine (she's in love with Jacques); marvellously monstrous wicked witch Malabelle is played by Helen Townson; Wayne Bartholomew is Ma the dame; Rose is played by Elisha Selby; Ron Milnes takes the part of the Talking Clock and in the roles of the Prince and the Beast are Tracey Howson and Thomas Miles.

Louise Bell directs.

Box office 07792-777213 or book online at www.batsburneside.co.uk.

And that's not all...it's a laugh a minute in The Lakes Players Cinderella spectacular as the diabolical and dastardly Baroness - played by Amy Miller - gives Cinderella a hard time and attempts to stop her getting to the ball by ripping up her dress and tearing up her invite.

Alas, the boo-able and bad Baroness treats Cinders like a servant girl, but in the end...

Staged at The Lakes School, Troutbeck Bridge, director Stewart Hart's guys and gals are poised to wow audiences with a family production of fun, comedy and carefully choreographed dance numbers, running from Wednesday-Sunday, January 24-28.

Performances start at 7pm with matinee performances on the Saturday and Sunday, 1.30pm. No evening performance Sunday.

Tickets are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/lakesplayers or buy in person from Aqua Hair, Bowness or Barbara Blackwell alterations Ambleside.

Last, but not least, Storth Entertainers will slip spectacularly into panto mode and see who's been eating who's porridge staging Goldilocks and the Three Bears, from January 10-13 with a matinee on the Saturday.