Carol Evans, of the Sinodun Players in Wallingford, talks about putting on Rapunzel and the joys of a late Christmas show

January means panto time in Wallingford and the Sinodun Players will be letting their hair down in a spectacular production of Rapunzel at the Corn Exchange.

For the uninitiated, Rapunzel is a traditional tale about how, as a baby, a beautiful young maiden is taken from her parents by a wicked witch and hidden away in a tower. The story goes that she is rescued by a handsome prince who climbs up her long, long hair to reach her. But, in true fairy tale tradition, the path of true love never runs smoothly and our audacious hero must overcome a host of prickly obstacles to achieve his goal.

But in the Sinodun Players’ version, written by Michael Buchanan-Smart, our dashing prince will be helped on his way by an abundance of colourful characters – ghosts, silly gnomes, courtiers, Bobbin the dancing Robin and pretty fairies.

Running from January 15-30, rehearsals are shaping up well. Wicked Witch Ragwort, scary in her black pointy hat and long grey locks, was accompanied by her cat, Claws, Dame Mathilda Mop, the theatre cleaner, was going through her opening number while legions of gnomes were amassing behind her.

Gnomes? Theatre cleaners? Ragwort? Claws? I don’t remember these characters in the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale. But, hey, this is panto and, of course, anything goes.

It’s all fun and, judging by the dance routines (almost there, even at this early stage), and the lively and energetic songs at the rehearsal, even with my biased eye, I can spot a winner. Everyone is clearly enjoying themselves and looking forward to performing with the four-piece band.

There are 15 adults in the cast and 21 children, aged from 8-15, from Sinodun’s junior group Encore. The youngsters will be working as three teams throughout the show’s two week run.

Directors Marilyn Johnstone and Caroline Wilkes have lots of tricks up their sleeves too. The set and costumes are marvellous and the special effects awesome: magic hair, flying germs, lots of spells, even time travel.

Performances take place at Corn Exchange, Market Place, Wallingford, or 01491 825000.