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Rumpelstiltskin (2016)

A Pre-Christmas Treat, a family show that adults will enjoy too

Dec 3rd to 10th 2016

Written by Matt Harvey & Thomas Hewitt Jones

Directed by Richard Warren & Deb Relton-Elves with Musical Direction by Bill Bosworth

A Pre-Christmas Treat, a family show that adults will enjoy too

We're ending our 2016 season as we began it: with a UK amateur premiere of a new play.


Back in February, it was the cult vampire thriller “Let the Right One In”. This December, it’s a new musical adaptation of the Grimm’s fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin”, commissioned by the egg, Theatre Royal Bath in 2014.


The egg specialises in new work that is designed to appeal to adults as well as children, and “Rumpelstitskin” is an excellent example.


With an ambitious score by award-winning composer Thomas Hewitt Jones, the show also has an exceptionally witty book and lyrics by Matt Harvey. It takes the traditional fairy story we all know, and gives it some surprisingly modern twists.


Rare for a musical, it’s told by a cast of just four characters: a gold-greedy King (played by Sean Glock), a dim-witted Miller (Ed Young), his idealistic daughter Emily (Nicol Cortese) and the mysterious title character (Lucy Hayton) who exacts a fearful price for the ability to spin straw into gold.


Criterion Artistic Director Jane Railton explains the show’s appeal: “Most parents have had to sit through a piece of “children’s theatre” that bored every adult in the audience. As soon as I read this one, I knew it was different. It’s witty, fast-paced and surprisingly moving. If you’d run a mile from a traditional children’s show or a pantomime, there’s plenty here for anyone who likes good theatre.”


The Criterion production is directed by Deb Relton-Elves and Richard Warren, who shares Jane Railton’s view of the play:


“I saw the original professional production on a family outing in Bath and I was genuinely surprised by how much I laughed - and how much I really cared about the Miller’s daughter and the way she deals with the dilemmas she faces. As a fan of Stephen Sondheim, I liked the wry, witty writing and a score that’s full of light and dark as the story develops. As a piece of theatre, I think it does what the great Pixar films do: entertain children and adults in different ways, all at the same time. We’ll certainly be aiming to do that at the Criterion.”


The production features live music, with a four-piece band led by Musical Director Bill Bosworth.


It’s a thoughtful, witty take on the famous fairy tale: and a family show that, unusually, the whole family (from 7 years to 107) can enjoy.


Rumpelstitskin plays at the Criterion Theatre in Berkeley Road South from Saturday December 3rd-10th at 7.30pm, with a matinee at 2.30 on the 10th.