It’s a fairy story that makes you smile, that teaches you the dangers of boasting and making promises you can’t keep.
Northumberland Theatre Company’s (NTC) production of Rumpelstiltskin did all of that and more.
I was lucky enough to get a preview viewing with pupils from first schools in north Northumberland on Tuesday.
The group’s festive production tells the original Brothers Grimm tale of a poor miller who has a beautiful daughter.
But he happens to tell the King that his girl can spin straw into gold.
Having filled his vaults with straw and spent all his money, the King takes him at his word and the daughter is taken to the palace.
But the girl is threatened with beheading if she cannot perform the task.
However, suddenly a man comes along and says he can do the job, in return for her necklace.
He does so, and the King is pleased, setting the girl to do more.
Again the man visits and this time takes her ring.
The third and final time the girl is told she will become Queen if she makes the last lot of straw into gold.
But this time she promises the man anything he wants, and his desire is her first-born child.
When the princess arrives, the man comes back to haunt her and gives her three guesses a night, over three nights, to find out his name.
On the last night, she manages to find out he is called Rumpelstiltskin, leaving her to live a long and happy life with her new little family.
Of course, NTC put its own mark on the story, in particular with The Fair Folk, a team of five fairy-like creatures that dance around and use a rhyming narrative to set out the story.
Of course, those five are also the five characters in the production.
Helen Cooper makes a brilliant miller’s daughter, wanting to do something to help, but being denied the chance by her father, Nigel Collins, who comes across very well as the protective and boastful dad.
Nigel is also the Lord Chancellor in the scenes at the palace and switches between he two completely different characters effortlessly.
Umar Ahmed is superb as Rumpelstiltskin, taking on the imp-like character in all its glory. He is both scary and silly, giving the audience laughs and gasps.
Umar has to have been my favourite in the production.
He also plays the Queen Mother, adding in a hint of Cinderella to the tale.
And Sam Gannon shows the King to be the typical spoilt child who wants for nothing, who grows into a King that realises there are others in the world to care for than himself.
Last but not least is Eleanor Dennison who plays Mess, the miller’s helper and daughter’s mother-like figure. Another fine actress who plays her role perfectly.
It never ceases to amaze me how the NTC cast can put on such outstanding performances with just a few actors and actresses in a small space in the Studio.
Yet with fantastic set designs – well done again Michelle Huitson – and a cast who seem to just gel with each other, you can see how it all works.
Add into the mix a bit of dancing, some Bollywood-themed music, and brilliant, yet quick, costume changes and Rumpelstiltskin is a sure-fire winner.
Miss it and you will miss out.
Rumpelstiltskin is tonight at Alnwick Playhouse at 7.30pm (tickets £10 adults, £9 concessions, £6.50 children)and will then be touring across the country.
It visits Kielder First School and Community Centre at 7pm on Tuesday, December 9 (contact 01434 250257) followed by Etal Village Hall at 7pm, on Wednesday, December 10 (contact 01890 820777) and then Bamburgh Village Hall on Thursday, January 8 at 7pm (contact 01668 214634)with performances across the UK sandwiched in between.