IF YOU think you know the story of Rapunzel, then York playwright Mike Kenny and Leeds children’s theatre company Tutti Frutti will make you think again.

Tutti Frutti are marking their 21st anniversary by mounting a co-production of Kenny’s new adaptation with York Theatre Royal, where the show will be premiered from Thursday at the outset of a tour that will run until February 23 next year.

Rapunzel, the 2012 remix, still tells the story of a girl who is taken away from what she knows and is protected from all the things that she loves, but out go the blonde tresses and the Witch and the Prince.

In come Rapunzel with darker hair, a stifling Nan and a boy from the village, Rafi, whose curiosity leads him to the tower.

Direction by Tutti Frutti artistic director Wendy Harris, music by Chris Mellor, movement by TC Howard and designs by Catherine Chapman all play their part in a show performed by Gayle Newbolt as Rapunzel, Selina Zaza as Nan and Max Gallagher as Rafi.

“It’s a bit different, but not very, taking the traditional elements and playing with them,” says playwright Mike Kenny, who has gone from the epic scale of his York Mystery Plays adaptation to a three-hander for children aged seven and upwards.

“Just because it’s a short story, don’t think Rapunzel is not epic,” says director Wendy Harris.

“Like a lot of these fairytales, it’s very black and white in its original form,” says Mike.

“It’s story where a witch takes away the first-born and keeps her in a tower, from which there’s no escape, but for this new production we became obsessed with what happens to Rapunzel in there.

“We have her being raised by her Nan, who starts off as protective but becomes over-protective, and as the tower grows higher and higher, Rapunzel wants to see the world. She feels trapped in the tower and trapped in her relationship with this woman, who is viewed as a witch in the village.”

Rapunzel’s hair is a character in its own right. “It becomes a weight that is tying her down and a symbol of her imprisonment,” says Mike.

The biggest change is the Prince making way in the story for village boy Rafi.

“Rapunzel can see him from one of the windows, and instead of a prince, it is this boy she develops a relationship with,” says Wendy. “He brings the outside world to her, so he’s the catalyst for her to discover what lies beyond the tower.”

Explaining the significance of the change, Wendy says: “We needed a device whereby younger children would engage with the story today, so by having two young characters, a girl and a boy, it becomes a play about their friendship, rather than a rescue by a prince.

“Rapunzel is empowered by the friendship, rather than a prince having to release her.”

At its heart, Rapunzel is a story about growing up. “That’s why we chose it for our 21st birthday show, as I very much wanted to do a piece on that theme,” says Wendy.

• Tutti Frutti and York Theatre Royal present Rapunzel, York Theatre Royal Studio, September 27 to October 13, and then on tour. The show is suitable for Reception – Year 2 and upwards. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk