Review and videos: Norwich Puppet Theatre gives a sneak preview of its Christmas show The Tinderbox

A unique retelling of a classic Hans Christian Andersen story is set to entertain audiences at Norwich Puppet Theatre this Christmas.

The Tinderbox - a tale of a roguish soldier who acquires a tinderbox which gives him the power to summon three extraordinary dogs - is the festive show for the Whitefriars venue and it is the first production the theatre's director Joy Haynes has directed since she joined the theatre.

Yesterday, a small audience was treated to a sneak preview of part of the show, and Miss Haynes said she was looking forward to sharing the whole show with audiences later this month.

'This is the first home-grown production at Norwich Puppet Theatre for seven years - the others have been collaborations,' she said.

'It is quite exciting and I feel confident that we have got a show that is going to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Hopefully it will be the first of many!'

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When asked why she picked The Tinderbox for the Christmas show, she said: 'I am very interested in stories by Hans Christian Andersen, but this is a slightly different Hans Christian Andersen story in that it is related to a traditional tale like Aladdin. It is the idea of magic and transformation and how extraordinary things can happen - and that always works really well with puppets.'

The excerpt performed yesterday showcased many of the unique and inventive puppets taking the starring roles in the show - from the mechanical soldier with a money box for a stomach to the delicate and beautiful princess - and the audience were given a taste of the ingenious ways the show combines animation with traditional puppetry.

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Youngsters watching an excerpt of The Tinderbox gave the show a big thumbs-up.

Sprowston Junior School pupils Eloise Mason and Joshua Ampleford had a great time watching the show.

Eloise, eight, said: 'I thought it was really interesting and clever how they built the puppets and made the soldier's money come out of his stomach.

'If I could have any job it would probably be a puppet-maker.'

Joshua, eight, said: 'I thought it was really smart how they did all the animation. It was really inspiring.

'If I was a headteacher I would have puppet-making as a lesson.'

West Earlham Infant School pupil Megan Ayto, six, said: 'I thought it was good. I liked the tree-house and the queen.

'I'm looking forward to seeing the show next week with my school.'

There will be a gala performance on December 15, and then the show will be performed from December 22 to January 5. Tickets �3.50-�22. Visit or call 01603 629921.

• Are you involved in a new arts project? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email

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