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Production a little gem

Thumbelina is this year's Northern Stage Christmas show for the under-sixes and young at heart.

Thumbelina is this year's Northern Stage Christmas show for the under-sixes and young at heart. Susan Bennison went along to check it out

Northern Stage has come back home with a bang. After two years performing children's Christmas shows at temporary venues the company is once again at Barras Bridge, in Newcastle and at its very best.

Its adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale Thumbelina is their most exciting production for the very young since the Elves and the Shoemaker, four years ago.

It has everything to keep the little ones amused and more. There is audience participation from the word go, lots of slapstick humour and fooling about, great animal impressions, wonderful costumes and some fantastic worm puppets which make the children roar with laughter.

A fabulous set, with a revolving tree stump at its centre gives the cast lots of opportunities for running around, hiding from each other and takes the tiny Thumbelina on her adventure through the countryside to a swamp, a mouse's hole, and moles' burrow.

Everything from the leaves to the snowflakes are giant-sized so Thumbelina really does look four and a half centimetres tall.

There are plenty of songs with lovely accompaniments from a xylophone and some other more unusual percussion instruments to help the story along.

Thumbelina, who starts the story wishing she could be bigger than the size of a thumb and desperate to go on a grown-up adventure, soon learns the moral of the tale that big is not necessarily better.

After fighting off some unwanted marriage proposals and escaping from dark underground tunnels and a slimy swamp she realises that without the small things in life nothing would be big and learns to like herself the way she is.

The cast of four excels itself with this 60-minute Christmas show, proving the nicest things come in small packages and big is not always beautiful.

Tickets to Thumbelina are free in a bid to attract lots of people to the theatre to show everyone how good Northern Stage can be - and you and the children certainly wont be disappointed.

Thumbelina, Northern Stage, Barras Bridge, Newcastle. Now until January 6, 10:30am and 1:30pm except Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Tickets free, for returns ring (0191) 230 5151.

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