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Behind the Curtain: An Interview with Cinderella star Laura Gómez Gracia


Photo credit: Geraint Lewis

 

There’s a Latin American twist to a traditional tale at the Theatre Chipping Norton this Christmas. The cast has been announced for Theatre Chipping Norton’s family pantomime, Cinderella. Head to the national home of traditional family panto this festive season for this joyous and exciting reimagining of the classic tale, written by John Terry and with music by Rebecca Applin and Eliane

Correa. With Latin American music and dance, a riot of colour and non-stop silliness, this is the story of Cinderella as you’ve never experienced it before.


In the small town of Santa Maria de las Orejas de Soplillo (St Maria with the Sticky Out Ears), Cinderella dreams of a new life away from her chores and awful stepmother. Inspired by Latin American music and dance, with a majority Latinx cast, Cinderella is full of life, colour and music at Theatre Chipping Norton this winter.


Cinderella at Theatre Chipping Norton promises to be the perfect panto for Encanto-loving families this Christmas, with feel-good stories, hilarious jokes, vibrant music and, of course... sweeties! The clock is ticking... book now.


I got the chance to speak to cast member Laura Gómez Gracia who plays Adnausea, about Cinderella and ahead of the show's run at Theatre Chipping Norton.


Photo credit: Geraint Lewis
 

Most people will know the story of Cinderella, but describe in your words

how this Cinderella is different to the one they all know?


This Cinderella is sweet and funny and magical, but it’s also grounded and soulful and will make you want to stand up and join the party. It’s set in the fictional Latin American town of Santa María de las Orejas de Soplillo, full of colours and music but also full of hard-working people with business ideas and dreams, and it has a lovely environmental message!


Who is your character and what is your favourite part of playing them?


I play Adnausea, she’s one of Cinderella’s Ugly Stepsisters (although I think she’s quite fabulous). I really enjoy how dumb and easily excited she is, it’s such an open door for silliness and comedy! I think my favourite part about playing her is interacting with the audience and finding new ways to play with them and with my sister Quosimoda.


How would you describe the music of the show?


I’d say it’s exciting, moving and vibrant. We’ve been lucky enough to have not only one but two amazing composers for this show: Eliane Correa and Rebecca Applin. They complemented each other incredibly well, resulting on a show full of soulful Latin rhythms and sounds as well as some Musical Theatre melodies for the introspective moments, and a gorgeous combination of both for the incidental music that happens all throughout the show.


The actors, musicians and theatre makers from various countries across Europe and Latin America - what does that add to the show for the audience?


We’ve all brought in our own different experiences and cultural backgrounds into this project, which I believe adds richness to the story and overall performance. There’s been more points of view and very different creative styles and flavours involved in creating the show, which has resulted in a multi-dimensional piece that steps away from stereotypes and embraces everyone’s differences as something valuable and exciting.


How important was it to put on a diverse performance of Cinderella?


It’s incredibly important to put on diverse stories out there. We live in a diverse world and that has to be represented in the arts. Especially for our young audiences, it’s important they get to see people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds onstage, telling stories, existing not just as a distant concept but as a normal and natural reality. For kids that don’t happen to encounter people like us on the regular, it reminds them we exist, but for people like us, who are also migrants, who come from a different cultural background, who are a

minority in their environment, it’s vital they see themselves represented to show them this involves them too and they also get to be part of the story.



Photo credit: Geraint Lewis
 

Have you been part of a panto before? If so, what do you love about Panto?


Yeah! Randomly, I used to do pantos growing up back in Spain, with an English school in my hometown that offered theatre as a way of learning English. That’s when I learnt about the genre. Then at drama school in London we also did a panto, and last year I took part in a smaller production that toured around the UK.

What I love about Panto is that it’s usually one of the first theatre experiences for many children over here, and it makes them feel involved in the story, like we’re all doing this together: laughing, beating the baddies, helping the heroes, finding love, solving problems, having fun.


What can the audience expect from this Latin American reimagining of Cinderella?


They can expect an exciting fairytale with music and rhythms that will make you want to dance, the silliest panto jokes and lovable characters brought to life by a wonderfully diverse team!


How are the rehearsals going? Have the cast created any pre-show rituals yet?


Rehearsals were super fun, we had a great time finding the characters and bringing the show to life with the whole creative team. We opened last week though so it’s go-time now! Regarding pre-show rituals we try to wish everyone “mierda”. I guess it’s the Hispanic version of “break a leg”, but a bit less PC. You tell each other “mucha mierda” or, if we manage, we say it three times together.

I think they say the tradition comes from wishing there would be lots of carriages at the door of the theatre, which meant lots of people in the audience, but also lots of horses. And we know what lots of horses can bring to the door of the theatre: lots of mierda. I didn’t mean to say “poo” that many times in an interview, but here we are, sorry.


What are you looking forward to the most?


I’m looking forward to finding new ways of playing with each other and the audience and for people to get to see this funny and magical show.


Describe Cinderella in one sentence.


It’s a fresh take on the beloved story of Cinderella, with all the panto traditional elements but with a vibrant and colourful Latin American twist.


Photo credit: Geraint Lewis
 

John Terry, Artistic Director of Theatre Chipping Norton and Director of Cinderella, comments; "This production of Cinderella feels like a real exploration of what a panto can be in 2023 – outward looking, multi-cultural, channelling artistic excellence from a huge diversity of creative people into the folk-form that is a pantomime. With actors, musicians and theatre-makers from at least ten countries across Europe and Latin America, this is going to be a joyful blast of carnival colour and energy the likes of which neither Cinderella or Chipping Norton has seen before. I have always found panto to be an incredibly generous and forgiving artform – it despises moderation and thrives on giddy, open-hearted celebration. With this production we hope to give all of the pantomime staples – dames, singalong songs, throwaway sweets, and of course, lots of wonderfully bad gags – a new and exciting twist.


Our interpretation carries a strong but optimistic environmental theme, with Cinderella’s fragile home in the rainforests of Latin America, collapsing around her. Cinderella is a tale of confused and secret identities, with numerous characters pretending to be something other than what they are. Ultimately, our version shows authenticity – being who you really are – to be the key to happiness, alongside preserving and treasuring the world in which we live".


See Below for important show INFO.


Photo credit: Geraint Lewis
 

IMPORTANT SHOW INFO


Cinderella


Wednesday 15th November 2023 to Sunday 14th January 2024

Theatre Chipping Norton

Age guide - Suitable for all ages, except on Adult only nights Ages 18+



Relaxed, Captioned and Audio Described Performances - schedule available on website






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