A new stage adaptation of children's book series, The Borrowers, opens tonight, 30 January 2002, at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield, ahead of a major national tour that continues to more than 20 cities until the end of July 2002.

Based on the books by Mary Norton, The Borrowers follows the adventures of Arriety Clock who has lived with her family under the floorboards of a 'human bean' house for 14 years. The humans, from whom the Clocks borrow all their belongings, don't even know they exist - until Arriety befriends one of them and their way of life becomes threatened.

Norton's first books - The Magic Bed Knob (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1947) - were later published as one and made into the hugely popular Disney film, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. In 1952, the first of The Borrowers was published, followed by four sequels. The series remains popular, having been adapted twice for television and, in 1997, as a big screen version starring Jim Broadbent, John Goodman, Celia Imrie, Hugh Laurie and Ruby Wax.

This stage adaptation, by children's playwright Charles Way, is directed by Chris Wallis, former artistic director of London's Unicorn Theatre for Children, designed by Judith Croft and presented on tour by Watershed Productions. The stage version originally premiered at the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, south London.

In separate Polka Theatre news, Vicky Ireland, Polka artistic director for the past 14 years, has announced that she will step down at the end of the summer in order to pursue more freelance writing and directing projects. Her final Polka production will be her own adaptation of Allan Ahlberg's football poems Friendly Matches.

- by Terri Paddock