The wicked villain coronavirus stole the show from Chipping Norton Theatre last winter – boooo!

But panto is back – it’s not behind us.

This year's panto is Rapunzel with knights and maidens, sword fights and sea-storms, in a show written by Ben Crocker and directed by David Ashley.

Poor Rapunzel has been stuck in a castle tower for 18 years, imprisoned by witch Gothel's magical powers.

But she’s not the sort of girl to let that defeat her. With the help of her Nanny, a charming yet cheeky Prince - and great hair - she’s going to escape into the big wide world.

There’s panto traditions aplenty including an audience dance-alongs, singalongs, the chance to catch sweets and being sprayed by water pistols.

Oxford Mail: Chipping Norton panto

JJ Henry returns to Chippy theatre as The Dame and is hilariously funny as Brunnhilde Blunderberg, Rapunzel’s nanny, getting everyone going with his innuendo and mindfulness routines.

Oxford Mail: Chipping Norton panto

Rhian Lynch as Rapunzel is a great singer and comic and matched by Alex Cardall as Jack the Lad Rudi with whom romance finally blossoms - hurray. Now she just needs to bring him back to life.

Oxford Mail: Chipping Norton panto

Oxford Mail: Chipping Norton panto

Hilda’s scouting mad son Max, played by Anna Soden, is outstanding and turns out to be intrinsic to a plot which, typically for panto, takes a bit of a detour.

And if the witch Gothel (Amy Rhiannon Worth) and her pet weasel Waylon weren’t so funny, we’d boo her even more.

There’s topical gags – they even get a laugh out of lockdown and hand sanitiser. There’s also a timely sketch about Brexit and two Customs Officials, Jobs and Worth, who insist upon the correct dress to enter the country – a hat for ladies and a tie for gentlemen.

The only way to get them is to sing for them which we all have to do, several times.

Pip Leckenby’s colourful sets are cleverly designed and there’s modern-sounding songs by Becky Applin which I thought – particularly the opening number – reminded me of Disney’s Frozen. My son told me he thought they were even better than that.

Finally a big shout out to The Pippins – young actors aged nine to 14 - who were incredibly confident in their various roles supporting the main cast.

The audience were buzzing and well on their feet by the time of grand finale which, appropriately, ties everything up with a high-energy happy ending.

Seriously, not to be missed.