Bury St Edmunds: Hansel and Gretel need your help getting off the sofa

Hansel and Gretel Off the Sofa which begins its tour at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds.

Hansel and Gretel Off the Sofa which begins its tour at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

If a wicked witch wants to cook this Hansel and Gretel she’ll have to pry them off their sofa first.

Gretel’s stuffing herself with fizzy cola bottles and Hansel’s lost in his computer game, but when their telly’s held hostage they’ve no choice but to brave the big outdoors in the latest show from The Theatre Royal’s Young Associates.

“It’s a show for young children to promote healthy wellbeing, healthy living,” says Amber Jenkins, who’s juggling being on stage and helping participation producer Amy Wyllie who’s directing.

“The story’s reversed but we’ve kept the traditional costume, the villain element... the ideals behind it so the children will be able to relate to it. I really don’t want to give too much away but they have to overcome lots of challenges.”

Devised from scratch, it’s been written by Amy, Amber, Barney Nunn, David Bolwell and former young associate Alex Ewing who’s returing to help out, as they go along.

“It’s great fun; we get to play around all day. The other week we did roly-polys for about an hour. We cleared out the meeting room at the theatre and almost knocked a couple of tables over,” laughs Amber who, along with David, plays all the characters the two siblings meet on their adventure.

“One of them I’m particularly excited to play is the role of a dog which should be interesting,” she laughs. “Trying out different characters and having to change costume quickly, that’s fun.”

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Making the idea work on stage has been an interesting challenge; from working week by week with only scraps of script to not losing the healthy eating, benefits of playing outdoors and staying safe in the process elements.

“That’s what’s fun, giving these kids a message not just an entertaining 45 minutes,” says Amber.

Families get activity packs so they help the cast out throughout the show and put what they’ve learnt into action after.

“It’s going to be big, fun, very interactive and quite nerve-wracking because you never know what’s going to happen, you never know what kids are going to shout out at you but that’s the fun of it as well.”

Hansel and Gretel Off the Sofa kicks off at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 11am and 12.30pm, February 15.

The four-strong cast and co will then continue sprinkling their trail of crumbs at Haverhill Arts Centre, 3pm, February 20; The Curve, Sudbury, 3pm, February 21; Ixworth Village Hall, 11am, February 22 and Newmarket’s Memorial Hall at 3pm the same day.

The Theatre Royal’s Young Associates programme welcomes four young people with a strong interest in theatre to work with the theatre for a year. They learn about what goes on there, produce their own shows and get advice on drama school applications. In exchange, they help with its Creative Learning programme.helping to take classes.

“We’ve done a few small things already, this is another one on the list. We have a couple of rough ideas planned for the rest of the year but we’ll have to wait and see what comes up,” says Amber.

Suitable for ages four plus, all tickets for Hansel and Gretel Off the Sofa are £5.

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