Hook or Cinders? Some recent First Family Entertainment panto stars
Hook or Cinders? Some recent First Family Entertainment panto stars

Who's the fairest of them all? Cinderella, of course – and she's also the most popular of all when it comes to pantomimes. According to this year's Panto League table on WhatsOnStage, there are more productions being mounted up and down the country of Cinderella (22 in total) than any other pantomime title this Christmas.

WhatsOnStage has been listing pantomimes – as well as every other type of performing arts genre – since 1997. Over the past 17 Christmases, Cinderella and Aladdin have regularly battled for the top spot, with Cinderella retaining the title since 2011.

According to Kevin Woodsat pantomime producing giant First Family Entertainment, sponsor of the WhatsOnStage Panto Guide, Disney has much to answer for in helping the titles at the top of the Panto League table.

"If Disney has made a film of the story, the title has instant recognition amongst children", Woods said. "Disney's version of Cinderella, though released back in 1950, remains a classic and has pride of place in most families Disney DVD collections, and Aladdin has benefitted ever since the 1992 Disney film came out in 1992."

Most popular pantos 2013-14

1. Cinderella – 22 productions
2. Jack and the Beanstalk – 18 productions
3. Aladdin – 17 productions
4. Sleeping Beauty – 14 productions
5. Snow White – 14 productions
6. Peter Pan – 10 productions

Dick Whittington, with its pun-prone title, also slips into the field of frontrunners with ten productions if adults-only offerings, such as Dick Comes Again: Bigger, Longer, Harder!, are counted.

It's not all good news for Cinderella. While the 22 productions tally keeps her top of the League, it's far below her previous high; in the 1999 Christmas season, there were no fewer than 52 panto productions of the rags-to-riches fairy tale.

Terri Paddock, Managing and Editorial Director of WhatsOnStage, commented: "In general, we're seeing fewer pantomimes mounted in recent years. As of today, we're listing 125 pantomimes in our nationwide database for this Christmas as compared with a peak in 1996 of 244. Major pantomime producers such as First Family Entertainment are going from strength to strength with big, star-studded offerings that rival West End production quality but at a fraction of the ticket price for families. At smaller theatres, however, there seem to be a lot more alternative festive offerings."