With the lilt of South American music welcoming us into the auditorium - where a theatre curtain depicted a lush rainforest - the audience was in for an exotic treat right from the start of this colourful jewel of a panto production. Chippy has a long tradition (50+ years) of producing and delivering its own fabulous Christmas production - punching way above its weight, as ever, for a small rural theatre - and this year's tale does not disappoint. A varied and very international cast - including a talented group of Pippins, the child actors who join the panto from local schools in most panto years - delivered a slick and beautiful show with all the style and ability of a much larger professional production.
The strong ensemble cast (from twelve different countries) and the partly concealed one-man band delivered the story of Cinderella as you've never seen it before, with all the style and musicality of the best recent Disney films presenting stories from around the world. With a Buttons who was faintly reminiscent of Olaf... and an evil stepmother called Elsa... and a fairy godmother made of the Mountains, a variety of influences knitted together to form a very pleasing example of good old fashioned British pantomime. Of course, we had to shout 'HE'S BEHIND YOU'... of course, we had a brilliant pantomime dame (actually two) and some hilarious/humiliating audience participation, plus flying sweets, risque double entendres, a solid environmental and social message, more sequins than an episode of Strictly and even - some excellent puppets. Not only was the dancing, singing and choreography superb, but the sets were clever and beautiful, the fourth wall was healthily broken and we also got to sing a Christmas song (even if it was about a donkey instead of a reindeer).
All in, combined with the wonderful experience you can only gain by
attending a show in a small historic theatre where you are so much
closer to the action and thus so much more part of it, there was really
no criticism to be made of this show other than that the enthusiastic
solo orchestra occasionally dominated the vocals (particularly in
Cinderella's solo numbers). It's early days of course so it's very
likely this will be corrected in future showings. And perhaps if you
bring your ear trumpet or your younger-eared child you won't
experience that issue anyway.
Thoroughly recommended! Thank you once again Chippy Theatre.