Hair-raising story as Rapunzel lets it all hang out to thrill hundreds of young children

Gaye Newbolt as Rapunzel. Crucible Studio Dec 12 to Jan 5
Gaye Newbolt as Rapunzel. Crucible Studio Dec 12 to Jan 5
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ONE of the dark Brothers Grimm fairy stories, Rapunzel, has been updated in a magical new version aimed at very young children.

Director Wendy Harris, who has worked at Sheffield Theatres before, said she is thrilled to be back in the city with a touring production with Leeds-based theatre company tutti frutti.

She said: “One of the things people say is that’s a scary story. If you read the story, which is one of the lesser-known ones, there’s quite a scary witch and a prince gets thrown out of a window and blinded. It’s quite a dark fairy tale.”

Wendy said the other version people have heard of is the Disney version Tangled. She added: “It’s not an exact retelling of the original and nothing like Tangled. The writer, Mike Kenny, is brilliant at taking the heart of an original fairy story and retelling it in an appropriate way for the age group. It retains some of the core elements of the fairy story.

“The reason these stories have lasted is that they keep getting retold. People love them and they mean something to them. They can take children on a journey, sometimes it’s scary but they always have a happy ending.”

Wendy says this version is really a story about growing up. There’s no witch and no prince but Rapunzel does make friends with a boy who walks past the tower where she has been imprisoned and where she grows her beautiful long hair. Nan, who looks after Rapunzel, has kept her in the tower because she wants to protect her from, the world and Wendy says the children respond to that idea.

The play is very beautiful to look at, says Wendy, who worked with the Sheffield Theatre in Education in the 1980s.

Children are allowed on to the stage afterwards to look at the set, including Rapunzel’s hair. The actors greet the children on the way in and also chat to them afterwards, giving out stickers and colouring sheets.

Rapunzel is at the Crucible Studio from December 12 to January 5.