The Theatre Chipping Norton always put on the best panto in Oxfordshire and this year’s Chippy pantomime is Cinderella … but with a twist.
Vibrant colours, engaging characters, upbeat music and dance and of course the hilarity that every great panto has, Cinderella ticks all the boxes as a great pantomime.
Cinderella is a classic panto story and can get very samey, but not so at Chippy Theatre. It follows the same story line but is set in the small town of Santa Maria de las Orejas de Soplill in the rainforest. At the interval, my son said it feels a little like Encanto and it definitely does have that flavour running through it.
It’s always brave to try something a little different especially as The Theatre Chipping Norton have the reputation as home of the panto. What they’ve done so incredibly well is infuse a classic story with Latin American vibes but without losing anything that makes a panto a unique British tradition to visit over the festive period.
It wouldn’t be Cinderella without her ugly sisters. Larger than life with vibrantly coloured attire, we laughed – oh yes we did! They had brilliant chemistry and you could tell they were having just as much fun as the audience. I must give a shout out for Simon and Ed in the audience who were great sports and totally got into the antics too.
The ugly sisters connected with the audiences so well and you could hear giggles pealing out from younger kids, my teenager laughing away and the grown ups too. They’ve made the panto really accessible to all ages to enjoy.
With actors, musicians and theatre-makers from at least ten countries across Europe and Latin America we loved the energy and characters. It you’ve got younger kids, the panto can be a little scary at times too. The evil stepmother Madres Monte played by Pepa Duarte has just the right amount of meanness so we can give her a big boo withouth being too sinister. She also plays the fairygodmother, perfect as mystical lady of the rainforest with great storytelling and facial expressions.
Dominican-Austrian Ainy plays Cinderella wth great vocals, a winning smile and a dash of humour at just the right times. Great to see this iconic role infused with her hispanic hertiage.
Cinderella’s transformation was magical with an audible gasp from the whole audience. I’ll leave it as a suprise for you.
Fabian who plays the rich ‘prince’ made his panto debut with aplomb, bringing all his stage and musical experiences with him but really getting into the swing of everything pantomime.
I can’t miss out Buttons as he’s so perfectly lovable. Originally from Brazil, he has the smilest of faces and had us all shouting, singing and laughing too. It almost felt like he’d stepped out of a Disney cartoon and onto the stage.
Special shout out has to go to the Pippins who were the young actors in last nights performance. They were so slick, professional, engaging and I was so impressed.
Chipping Norton Theatre is small in size but big in personality. You’re close to the action and it feels so much more immersive without being overwelming. What you can always expect is top class productions. Great actors, choreography, stage design, costumes, lighting, live music and everything else I probably don’t realise goes on behind the scences.
Chipping Norton Theatre Social Impact
One of the best kept secrets of The Theatre is their extensive social impact work. The theatre provides lunch for 150 children from low income families every day of every school holiday, they have provided over 650 mental health packs to schools, a third of the Youth Theatre places are free – and so much more. Did you know they work with care homes, community groups, adults with learning disabilities, schools and under-privileged children across the district to help build confidence and resilience through the power of creativity? Find out lots more about their Social Impact here.
The Theatre has been at the heart of the community in Chipping Norton for almost 50 years; bringing laughter, joy, original work and the arts to the Cotswolds. This is not possible without supporters including The Dragon School.
The Chippy Norton Theatre pantomime has been sponsored by Kingham Hill School and