Sheffield children’s show has a princess with a difference

The Princess and the Pea, Crucible Studio. Clare Burns (in green) plays the princess
The Princess and the Pea, Crucible Studio. Clare Burns (in green) plays the princess

Young actress Claire Burns is playing a very modern royal in the adaptation of the Princess and the Pea which is the Crucible Studio’s Christmas show for younger children.

The show is based on the classic fairy tale but it is set in “a secret place with a hidden castle and hidden stories, a place where the princesses don’t know they are princesses and the princes don’t really want to become kings, a place where appearances can be deceptive!”.

Claire said: “The story’s got a bit of a twist to it. What we’ve done which is quite cool is that we’ve added a lot of new things to it and a lot of modern parts.

“She’s not your typical airy-fairy, pretty princess. She’s quite earthy and strong-willed and determined.

“We’re trying to show kids that just because she is a princess she doesn’t have to be different from real girls. She’s got a bit of attitude.”

She added: “All girls when they’re young have a thing about being a princess. What I really liked about this princess is that you imagine the typical princess as being gorgeous with long, blonde hair and very typically beautiful. When I was young I was a brunette, standard kind of girl.”

Claire says that her co-star, Joanna Brown, who plays the queen, fits the bill of the typical princess far better than her!

However, she argues: “Anyone can be a princess, no matter what you’re like. She’s a princess of nature and wears patchwork trousers. She doesn’t wear a dress and doesn’t prance about or anything like that.

“She is very sweet and kind to everyone. I think I would like her although she is very different from me.”

In the original story the princess is chosen to marry a prince because she is so delicate that she can feel a pea that the queen has hidden under several mattresses but this version approaches it a bit differently.

“It’s more looking at how ridiculous the idea is. Why has this crazy lady put a vegetable in the bed? She thinks this is a bit weird.”

Claire said she was pleasantly surprised when director Wendy Harris was happy with her Northern Irish accent for the role.

She was worried that people would struggle to understand her but said it’s going well, although she did hear one little boy ask: “Mummy, why is she saying ‘shower’ like that?”

The actors sing quite a few songs and play all their own instruments, which holds no fears for Claire as she also performs solo with her guitar.

She said: “I’ve never been to Sheffield and I’m very excited about it. I’ve heard it’s good for shopping!”

She is also thrilled about performing at the Crucible as it is held in such high esteem by actors these days.

The show has been created by theatre company tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal.

Writer Mike Kenny specialises in adapting popular children’s stories like The Railway Children and The Boy Who Cried Wolf for the stage.

Director Wendy Harris said: “At the heart of the story of The Princess and the Pea is the search for a real princess – so we thought it would be interesting to explore the idea of how we search for the truth and also find out what it means by ‘real’.

“tutti frutti will give this traditional story a unique twist and perhaps challenge some of the values in our world today which at times can be full of fakery and have an obsession with appearances.

“The play is full of humour, with three actor musicians creating delightful characters, a wild array of princesses and a unique soundtrack – including the playing of silver spoons!”

The Princess and the Pea is aimed at children aged three and over. The show runs until January 3.

Box office: at the venue, online at or call 0114 249 6000.