The ancient folk tale of The Princess and the Pea has been given an up-to-date twist by fledgling local playwright Ruth Jepson for
Honley Players’ annual panto, which opens on Friday, February 5.

Following the success last year of her first-ever panto, The Pied Piper, Ruth has taken the story of a prince’s quest to find a suitable bride and turned it into a tale that will be appreciated by modern audiences of all ages.

“The three princesses are in a competition,” explained Ruth, who teaches textiles, drama and art at North Huddersfield Trust School, “and there’s a pastiche of different television shows like Strictly and the X Factor. The story has been modernised but it’s still set in a castle with traditional pantomime costumes. We’ve got a chorus of singers and dancers and the songs are a mixture of the traditional panto and modern.”

Illustration from The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

Ruth, 28, who has been a member of the Players for four years, is the company’s wardrobe mistress as well as taking acting roles. She is a drama graduate of the University of Huddersfield and says her studies proved invaluable when putting together a script.

“Panto is something that I have always really loved,” said Ruth, “I really loved watching them as a kid and they’re the reason why I went into drama. I began writing The Princess and The Pea in the summer, mapping it out. When I was at university I did quite a lot of modules on Shakespeare and more modern writers – analysing their scripts – which has given me a grounding in script writing.”

The Players are hoping that Holme Valley families will enter into the pantomime spirit by dressing up for the show. Fellow playwright and Honley member Meg Plummer said: “We are encouraging everyone to dress up as a prince, princess ... or a pea! We’ll also be offering face painting for children at the interval, which went down very well last year.”

Directed by Players’ chairman Drew Britton, the cast includes 17-year-old Jacob ... in his first panto role as the prince and the three princesses – Jenny Taylor, Harriet ... and Ruth Jepson.

The Princess and the Pea by Honley Players

Tickets for the show, which can be seen until Saturday, February 13, at the Southgate Theatre in Honley, are £4 to £7. There are three matinees on February 6,7 and 13, at 2.30pm and all evening performances start at 7.15pm. Tickets are available from the Gallery Cafe in Honley and (search for Princess and the Pea).

The Princess and the Pea is a well-known Hans Christian Andersen story, first published in 1835, but is based on a folk story the author heard as a child. Only last week academics from Durham University and the New University of Lisbon said that many traditional stories are far older than was once thought and may even pre-date writing. It’s thought that The Princess and the Pea may have originated in Sweden.