Stars of theatre’s festive show set up elf training school

Youngsters swapped the classroom for Santa’s workshop when they took part in festive activities inspired by a theatre’s family production.

Cast members from Once Upon a Christmas set up an elf training centre at St Michael’s RC School in Esh, as the show continues to delight audiences at the Gala Theatre in Durham.

As well as playing festive games that encouraged the children to walk and move like an elf, the youngsters invented new toys and created their own production line.

The toys they dreamt up could quite easily be found on the set of Once Upon a Christmas, the latest family show to be produced at the Durham City venue.

The drama unfolds in a traditional toyshop, the kind of magical establishment where warm light floods out onto the street, inviting children of all ages to choose their favourite toy.

But this year the lights are a little dimmer and a disheartened toymaker is thinking about giving up.

Luckily, two magical creatures will not let that happen, and families are invited to come along to discover if the festive mission is a success.

Laura Lonsdale, who plays Mother Elf in the production, said: “It was wonderful to meet the children and to encourage them to be creative and use their imagination.

“They were really enthusiastic and came up with some wonderful ideas for new and exciting toys, which would be perfect for our magical shop.”

Written by Susan Mulholland and directed by Kate Sorahan, Once Upon a Christmas is a celebration of the power of kindness, with designer Katy Gardner’s beautiful scenery and costumes adding to the festive atmosphere.

The play opened last month and runs until Sunday, 30 December with various performance times available. Tickets cost from £7 to £8 or £28 to £30 for a family ticket.