Hans Christian Andersen himself frames four classic tales with the fabulous story of his own "ugly duckling" life.
The Swineherd (2m., 1w., extra "pigs" if desired). A vain and "particular" princess learns a lesson from a very clever boy, who ultimately compares her behavior to the animals he tends. Approximate running time: 10 minutes.
The Pixie and the Grocer (2m., 1w., 1 to 2m. or w.). A pixie lives in the home of a grocer and survives every day on the gruel he leaves out. Then the pixie overhears the student reading his poetry. She is so enraptured that when the grocer's house is engulfed by fire, the pixie chooses to run back and save the poetry book rather than the grocer's gold—thus choosing "art over appetite." Of course her magic leads to a happy ending. Approximate running time: 10 minutes.
The Emperor's New Clothes (with song) (1m., 3m. or w., additional townspeople if desired, can double as ministers). The classic tale of vanity is given a fun comic twist as the emperor is advised by his ill-advised ministers. The weaver weaves her invisible magic, and at the end of the play, the children are encouraged to join in stating that, "The emperor has no clothes!" Approximate running time: 20 minutes.
The Ugly Duckling (with songs) (2m., 2w., 2m. or w., with doubling, as many as 4m., 6w., 7 extras). Udrich is ugly—there is no question. But is he really an ugly DUCK? Follow this lonely fellow as he searches for his identity and tries to become a turkey, a goose, a dog, a cat, a hen and even a human child. Only after a full year of danger and growth does the gentle Udrich find his place and his happiness. Approximate running time: 30 minutes.
These charming and witty adaptations may be done as individual short plays, as a group of three or as a foursome. Unit set. Optional music included in book. Approximate total running time: 75 minutes.