5 Remarkable Classic Fairy Tales for School Plays
Fairy tales never fail in capturing a child’s attention and wild imagination. Often pitting good against the forces of evil, these narratives always had some lesson to impart. Because most originate from folklore, fairy tales typically have different versions with minor variations. This diversity gives room for creativity and versatility, making fairy tales a great choice for theater productions. For your school play, we suggest starting with a classic piece that people of all ages can enjoy.
Since a majority of classic tales involve magic and other fantastical elements, it may get a bit difficult to mount a compelling show. As an immersive set design is a must, you can consider renting out appropriate theater drapes and backdrops to liven up your stage. You’ll also need to have the right props for various scenes and accurate costumes for performers. But before planning for all these factors, you first need to select what to present.
Here are five remarkable fairy tales you can perform for your school play:
Cinderella – This classic tale about a kind but mistreated young lady has more than a thousand variant stories all over the world. The most well-known one is perhaps Cendrillon, written by French author Charles Perrault in 1697. This is also the version that the Walt Disney animated film Cinderella took inspiration from.
The plot of Perrault’s Cendrillon begins with a wealthy but widowed man who has a beautiful and sweet daughter. One day, the gentleman remarries a woman who has two daughters but unbeknownst to the man, his new wife and daughters are vain and selfish. They mistreat and force his own kind daughter into servitude, even going as far as calling her “Cinderella” because of the cinders that cover her face. Despite this unjust treatment, Cinderella bears the abuse and keeps her pain a secret from her father. But because of a grand ball, a charming prince, a magical Fairy Godmother, and a beautiful pair of glass slippers, her life is about to change.
A good stage design is important if you want to raise the bar of this magical show. Since Cinderella is best known for its pivotal ballroom, you can consider renting some colorful Cinderella castle backdrops or Disney castle backdrops to save time and effort.
Hansel and Gretel – Delight your audience by portraying the clever protagonists of this German fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm. The eponymous characters, Hansel and Gretel, are siblings whose father is a poor woodcutter. When a severe famine seizes the land, their heartless stepmother persuades the woodcutter to leave the children in the forest to lessen the mouths to feed in their household. However, overhearing the conversation, Hansel devises a plan to thwart their stepmother’s scheme.
As such, the first attempt to abandon the children in the deep forest fails. On the second attempt, the parents succeed in leaving the siblings in the forest, and Hansel and Gretel become lost in the woods. The pair spends days wandering around, getting hungrier as time passes. Soon, they stumble upon a strange cottage made of candy and cakes. As the tired and starving kids begin feasting on the parts of the house, the front door opens, revealing the owner: an old witch that has dark intentions for Hansel and Gretel.
Little Red Riding Hood – Deliver a suspenseful show by presenting on stage one of the most famous European fairy tales, Little Red Riding Hood. It revolves around a young girl who encounters the Big Bad Wolf in the forest. While there are countless retellings of this story, most of them share similar concepts, characters, and plot.
One day, a girl called Little Red Riding Hood is on her way to bring food to her sick grandmother. However, her grandma lives deep in the woods, where many dangers lie. To keep the young girl safe, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother orders her to stay on the clear path. This is a well-timed warning because in the darkness of the forest is the Big Bad Wolf, a vile being who wishes to eat the young girl. To get what he wants, he stalks the clueless lass and even approaches her to ask where she is heading to. Oblivious to the creature’s ill intent, Little Red Riding Hood tells him that she is going to her ailing granny’s house. With this information, the wolf hatches the idea to disguise as the girl’s grandmother to achieve his wicked goal.
Snow White – Published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, Snow White or Schneewittchen is a 19th-century German fairy tale. It is one of the most beloved and popular stories today, with numerous literary, film, and stage adaptations.
Snow White is beautiful princess who possesses skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as dark as ebony. But her father’s second wife, a beautiful and vain woman, grows jealous of the young girl’s loveliness. The Queen’s envy peaks when her Magic Mirror tells her that Snow White is fairest one of all. Angry, the wicked woman orders a huntsman to kill the princess. The huntsman proceeds to take Snow White into a dark forest but finds that he is unable to kill her. Breaking down in guilt, he tells the girl to go far away from the Queen’s hatred and jealousy.
Heeding the huntsman words, Snow White wanders through the woods. After some time, she comes across a tiny cottage owned by seven dwarfs. Soon, the dwarfs become Snow White’s good friends as well as her protectors from the evil Queen’s dark schemes.
The Seven Ravens – A German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm narrates the story of a young girl who goes on a journey to save her brothers. The Seven Ravens is also one of the few stories of its time where the female character is not the damsel-in-distress, and it has a number of variants. This story offers great appeal to viewers looking for a stronger female lead.
The tale starts with a man who has seven sons but wishes to have a daughter. After years of praying, his wife finally gives birth to another child, and it is indeed a girl. However, the baby is born weak and seems close to death. Wanting to baptize the newborn right away, the father sends his sons to get some water in the nearby well. But in their excitement to draw water, the boys dropped the jug into the well. Afraid of going home empty handed, the young lads stood around, not knowing what to do.
Meanwhile, back at home, their impatient father jumps to the conclusion that the boys forgot their errand and went off to play. In a fit of rage, he curses his sons, turning them into ravens. And so, the daughter grows up without any knowledge about her brothers until she hears gossip from the townspeople. After confronting her parents and learning the truth, she decides to redeem and bring back home her lost brothers. In her adventure, she meets the sun, the moon, and the morning star. She even loses a finger! At the end of her tiring journey, the young lady is reunited with her dear brothers and she frees them from their curse.
If executed well, these whimsical stories are sure to captivate your audience. Keep in mind, though, that no great show happens without dedication and hard work. But with the right planning, efficient tools, and great teamwork, you can put on a school play worthy of applause.