Everyone loves a fairy tale about a princess locked in a tower. But make that one ginger princess, who actually floats (yes, floats), plus some naughty hilarity, pretty puppetry, and faultless performing, and you’ve got one beautiful beast of a musical on your hands.
It’s been six years since dyeing redhead Tori Amos began co-writing gingerful masterpiece, The Light Princess. Adapted from a 19th-century Scottish fairy tale, the story follows flame-haired princess, Althea (played by Rosalie Craig), which is more than enough for us to be satisfied with this all-singing, all-dancing delight.
But, there’s more. The mechanics of the scenery and puppetry were inspired, like nothing you would’ve expected. The whole experience glittered like you were part of a storybook.
The most overwhelming detail of the stage production was the choreography and the methods of making Althea ‘float’. Sure, the expected wire suspension was used from time to time, but everything else was totally organic, how stage productions should be.
Quite a secret to all before the first show, not only is Craig suspended on wires, but other humans use their strength to lift her off the ground.
With acrobats dressed in black, the audience is able to gradually phase out the team of helpers that lift Craig around the stage.
Rosalie Craig is even turned upside-down while singing, which is simply stunning, as I was unable to work out how she could hold both her note and her nerve at the same time.
Aside from being impressed by the attention to detail, I was completely sucked in by the musical’s heartwarming storyline.
Red-haired Princess Althea, the teenage daughter of the King of Lagobel, has achieved her weightlessness since her mother’s death when she was six years old, able to float above ground.
To avoid judgment, Althea’s father locked her up in the tower, focusing attention on his son, the ideal heir to the throne.
Out of sight, out of mind, Althea lives with her best friend Piper, with whom she can float undisturbed, disobeying all rules of gravity and responsibility.
But, after the death of her brother, Althea must step up for her kingdom. And of course, in her larger-than-life state of mind, she continues to float around her tower, immaturely disobeying her father’s orders to be responsible and take things seriously.
I mean, we all knew that gingers were stubborn, right?
Digby and Althea
And, as most fairy tales dictate, Althea attracts a love interest.
Digby, the solemn prince of neighbouring kingdom, Sealand, has the opposite problem to Althea: the death of his own mother meant that he has been unable to smile and laugh for his whole life.
But his meeting with free and weightless Althea has changed him into the giggling prince he had always wanted to become.
The only issue, is that there are a lot of beefy issues between Lagobel and Sealand, the biggest of which involves an ongoing war between the two kingdoms.
It’s quite a pickle; a bit Brave meets Romeo and Juliet, which is never a bad thing.
Althea must learn to retrieve her gravity and come back down to earth, for the good of her kingdom’s welfare and to finally become a woman.
Piper and Althea
But the ginger joy doesn’t end there. Oh no.
Two other female redheads are cast in the production, both with incredibly empowering roles too, consisting of the Falconer (played by Laura Pitt-Pulford) and Piper (played by Amy Booth-Steel).
Combine that with cute orange mice, blue falcons, slow-motion dragons, and realistic woodland and lake scenery, and you’ve no excuse but to walk out of the National Theatre with rose-tinted glasses on.
Oh yes, and there’s a hilarious “GINGER FREAK” line in one of the songs, which will make you laugh until the red-haired Highland cows come home. Thanks, Tori Amos.
You can catch The Light Princess until 9th January 2014. For more info, see the National Theatre’s website.