A CAST of three, Danny Childs, Daniel Naddafy and Maeve Leahy, will take on all the roles in Ugly Duckling, Emma Reeves's new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale staged by Leeds company Tutti Frutti and York Theatre Royal.

Opening tomorrow, Wendy Harris's production marks the Tutti debut of Daniel and Maeve, while Danny returns to the Tutti ranks after appearing in Rapunzel.

Moving through all four seasons, Reeves's funny, sad, uplifting version of this familiar story of families, identity and discovering inner beauty features a menagerie of mischievous animals, depicted through inventive physicality and puppetry, complemented by live music.

"I've worked a fair bit with puppets, working with Theatre Rites earlier in the year," says Daniel. "I was in a puppet version of Iron Man at the Unicorn in London with a 9ft Iron Man, with three people operating the puppet."

Maeve has performed Bunraku puppetry. "They're big puppets, slightly bigger than lifesize, and that was in London with Tour de Force in a show called Fritz In Pieces," she says.

Danny is new to puppetry on stage. "But I have done it in auditions," he says. "For this show, we'll be working with puppets for the ducklings, a couple of dragonflies and the swans as well."

"Doing our rehearsals is like being back at school," says a smiling Maeve. "Puppetry one day, then movement and singing, and we've even had the writer, Emma, with us for a few days. We can contact her at any time." "She's very open to talking about anything," adds Daniel.

Tutti Frutti's show is aimed at three year olds and upwards. "I think they're often the forgotten age group for theatre shows," says Danny. "More often children's shows are for five and six year olds upwards, but this is a story about discovery and identity, so it's ideal for the younger children too."

The story's ending has been given a new twist by writer Emma Reeves that adds an appreciation of the mothering instincts of the Mother Duck, rather than Ugly just swanning off into the distance. "I think it's important to have the change, as there are lots of children who will identify with extended families, or having parents who look different from them, or being brought up by their grandparents." says Daniel. "The new finale doesn't feel too sweet or over-emotional."

"It's beautifully written and that's one of the reasons I wanted to do the show," says Maeve. "The ending is so moving."

Tutti Frutti and York Theatre Royal's Ugly Duckling runs at York Theatre Royal from today to October 14. Suitable for age three upwards. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk