Which makes the current tour of Neil Duffield's The Ugly Duckling to 50 Norfolk primary schools particularly noteworthy. Tiebreak's production, commissioned by the Healthy Norfolk 2000 health promotion project, uses the story to explore issues around disability, being different and feeling good about yourself. Through the vehicles of strong drama, music and songs, the messages come across that, with any luck, will make children question the tyrannies of conformity and beauty from which all of us suffer. More details on The Ugly Ducking from Tiebreak Touring Theatre on 01603 426374.
BT and Polka Theatre are launching a tour of How Does Your Garden Grow, a new Stardog adventure show for the under-sixes in Norwich on February 27. BT's sponsorship of this spring tour is the second leg in a partnership with the children's theatre that began in 1994 and reached over 8,000 children in 11 counties, many of whom had never before had access to plays for their age group. The idea of the tour is to try to reach inner city and rural children who, because of inadequate funding andor adult-focused planning, rarely get a chance to see live theatre. Polka Theatre on 0181 542 4258.
About Face Productions, a new company of drama school graduates, launches itself with Mike Leigh's Ecstasy,written in an era when the word had no pharmacological connections. It runs at the New End Theatre, Hampstead from March 5 to 31. Bookings on 0171 794 0022.
Currently on at the Little Angel Theatre, Islington: The Marsh King's Daughter, an adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story. It's an exotic tale, combining the unlikely elements of Vikings, Egyptians and other humans and animals to illustrate themes of love and redemption for children aged six and over. Go Noah Go! by John Agard is a new adaptation of the award winning writer's story about the Great Flood for three to nine-year-olds until March 31. The Little Angel is on 0171 226 1787.
Hitchin Girls' School in Hertfordshire is staging their first ever full-length opera. The Water of Life, written by Christopher Nicolls of the school's music department, is based on the Grimms' tale of the same name and features over 70 singers, dancers and musicians from the school and "two very special guest dancers from Paris" in a ballet sequence. It plays at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage on February 23 and 24. Tickets 01438 766866.