The Australian Ballet Brings ‘The Happy Prince’ from the Story to the Stage

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A kind heart shines brighter than gold…

Image Credit: Justin Ridler

‘The Happy Prince’ is one of my favourite Oscar Wilde classics remembered from childhood. It was first published in 1888 as a collection of stories which also included ‘The Selfish Giant’ – and I have to say that both stories made me cry. I don’t know how old I was but I have a vivid memory of thinking ‘why would someone write such sad stories for children?’ but I obviously connected with the poignant tales of love, loss and sacrifice as I also remember reading and rereading the collection of stories in my illustrated volume.

Now as a teacher librarian and author, I often talk to parents about not underestimating young readers. As adults, we sometimes worry about children reading sad books or books with ‘the big issues’ like grief, catastrophic world events or illness, but these are the stories which help young people to navigate the world, to find their moral compass and to develop kindness, empathy and compassion.

‘The Happy Prince’ is the story of a beautiful golden statue who stands high on a hill, weeping for the suffering he sees in the city below. A swallow stops to rest at the kind statue’s feet on his way south for the winter, then delays his journey to become his new friend’s messenger, delivering precious jewels and gold leaf from the statue’s own body to the needy villagers.

A feast for the eyes and ears and a salve for the heart, ‘The Happy Prince’ is the perfect kick-off for The Australian Ballet’s Year of Limitless Possibilities and this witty, poetic and distinctly fresh Australian interpretation of ‘The Happy Prince’ will enchant adults and children alike – oh and it’s a one act 90 minute run time so it is perfect for families!

‘Rehearsal’ Image Credit: Kate Longely

I am actually just a *touch*over-excited about seeing ‘The Happy Prince’ leap from the book to the stage under the direction masterful storyteller and renowned choreographer Graeme Murphy, who has re-imagined story ballets such as ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Swan Lake’ with his signature wit and stylistic innovation.

Tickets and availability can be seen here.

‘Rehearsal’ Image Credit: Kate Longely

If you have little dancers in your home, I have done several blog posts over the years about ballet books, some of which you can see here and here. There is something truly magical about ballet (the strength it takes!) and despite not possessing any talent myself, I could watch ballet all day and greatly enjoy productions…from amateur to The Australian Ballet.

Before seeing any book-based stage production with children, I always hunt down the original story and ensure they are familiar with the storyline. I remember when the girls were very young we went to QPAC to see an Angelina Ballerina ballet. My own girls were extreme fans of the books and could keep up with the storyline but the little friend we took had no idea what was happening and kept loudly asking when the big mice were going to talk and what ON EARTH was happening – I forgot to lend them the book beforehand obviously!

Words and images shift as they are re-imagined for the stage and for a contemporary audience but the essence of the story will remain and it breaks down barriers to understanding a production when you are somewhat familiar with the story. Of course you can just sit back and absorb the grace and strength on display in a ballet, along with the set and costume design…but in my experience children like to ‘know what is happening’! There are many, many versions of ‘The Happy Prince’, the two below are recent favourites of mine suitable for children.

Thanks to The Australian Ballet, I have a family pack (2 adults and 2 children) for ‘The Happy Prince’ for Wednesday 26 February 7.30pm. To win this family pack, let us know your top tip for taking children to the ballet or why you love taking your children to the ballet! Terms and Conditions are below.

Credits for ‘The Happy Prince’

  • Based on the story by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Kim Carpenter and Graeme Murphy
  • Choreography Graeme Murphy
  • Creative Associate Janet Vernon
  • Composer Christopher Gordon
  • Set and costume design Kim Carpenter
  • Lighting design Damien Cooper
  • Projection design Fabian Astore
‘Costume design sketch by Kim Carpenter’ image credit: The Australian Ballet.
‘The Happy Prince’ Image Credit: Justin Ridler

The Fine Print

This post is not sponsored and all opinions in this post are my own. The competition is hosted by Children’s Books Daily and sponsored by The Australian Ballet.

How to enter

This giveaway commences at 3pm 14/01/2020 and ends at 3pm 22/01/2020.

Entrants are required to leave a comment on this post, or the Facebook or Instagram post associated with the competition.  

Terms and Conditions

Entry is open to residents of Australia and the tickets are for Wednesday 26 February 7.30pm at QPAC Brisbane ONLY.

Winners will be selected all eligible entries received and this is a game of skill with entries judge on originality.

If a winner is unable to be contacted or does not claim their Prize within 14 days the prize will be forfeited.

In the event of forfeiture a further draw will be conducted within 14 days and a new winner will be selected.


Prize value is $514. Prize is 2 adult and 2 child tickets to ‘The Happy Prince’, Wednesday 26 February 7.30pm at QPAC Brisbane. Tickets will be available for collection from the box office on the evening of the event.

Prizes are not transferable or redeemable for cash.

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  1. Rea Taoube on Jan 15, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    I am one of eight children. We didn’t have access to a lot growing up, but theatre always intrigued me and left my heart longing. I remember spending my first grown up pay on tickets to the ballet and from that moment, I was absolutely entranced. I am a mother of three daughters now. We are not dancers, but admire the strength and agility of this art. On a teacher’s salary, going to the theatre isn’t a luxury my girls and I enjoy often, but it’s a luxury nonetheless. And a gift to the senses. I can’t say we deserve these tickets any more than anyone else, but I can promise we would accept the gift with absolute gratitude. And our hearts and eyes would smile just to be sitting in the audience!

  2. Natalie Robinson on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    My tip is on the day of performance, make sure your kids have an active morning. You want them to expend all their energy before going to the ballet with kids.

  3. Georgina on Jan 17, 2020 at 7:14 am

    My girls are only 3 and 4 so have not seen the ballet yet, but I would love to because i know they will be mesmerised by the dance. Snacks would be my top tip!

  4. Jennifer Upton on Jan 23, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    I love taking my kids to the ballet as we would be amazed by the strength and grace of the dancers as well as the creativity of the productions. We would be certain to enjoy and have happy memories of the performance.

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