Video: Norwich children are spellbound by fairytales

Most children are used to being read to in sleepy tones just before bed.

But a group of eager-readers in Norwich experienced a very different type of tale yesterday, as pantomime actors read them alternative fairytales in the Forum's children's library.

Tom Beard, actor and director who played Queen Bracken's canine assistant in Norwich's Theatre Royal's Sleeping Beauty last year, came to the library with with Jess Hathaway, 25, and read alternative stories energetically.

Forming part of Mr Beard's national tour, Fairy Tales of the Unexpected, the modern twist on classic fairytales proved popular with the audience.

'It's so wonderful to keep children's imagination going, and I thought what's a better way to do it than with telling stories.'

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Alternative narratives range from the Three Pigs with a twist, Little Red Riding Hood with an ASBO and Rapunzel the princess from Essex.

Miss Hathaway, who was a dancer and the evil Queen in Norwich's pantomime, has come to Norwich to join the Fairy Tales tour.

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She said: 'There are so many video games around, and reading can feel a bit boring. But being here at the Forum, as well as the rest of the tour, we want to show just how fun reading is.'

Octavia Smith, a child-minder from Earlham Road, was one of those in the audience.

She said: 'We come to the storytelling here a lot. It's sociable, and, as well as reading at home, this sort of thing backs up what we do.'

Mr Beard has read across Norfolk, including Sheringham, Lowestoft and Bungay. He added: 'We are trying to get the stories to evolve with the times and make them more relatable.

'For example, Rapunzel from Essex, who falls in love with a posh prince.'

As well as telling stories, the duo also invited the children to write or draw their own.

Nathan Durrant, four, won with his drawing of a gingerbread man, one of Mr Beard's favourite tales.

Seven-year-old Thea Smith's fairyland scene also scooped a prize, and Alice Joy Styles, 10, created a story about missing muffins. The tour will take to the Maddermarket Theatre from August 29-31.

Have you got a quirky story for the Evening News? Contact Rosa McMahon on 01603 772495.

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