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An evening of perfect Christmas entertainment

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Now, I am no Scrooge, but for some reason, I haven’t been feeling all that Christmassy this year – even after seeing the Coca-Cola advert on television.

But all this has changed after seeing Northumberland Theatre Company’s festive production, Once Upon a Time in the North, which is coming to a village near Morpeth during the tour.

NTC’s latest seasonal offering oozes Christmas spirit and left me in no doubt that the visit of Santa is imminent.

Make no mistake, this really is a treat of a show, which is family-friendly, entertaining and the perfect tonic for anyone not yet in the festive mood.

The set, for example, has that quintessential, romantic Victorian Christmas-card feel – a big decorated fireplace with boxes of presents to the side.

Then the show opens with the cast singing a medley of carols and playing games such as blind-man’s buff and pass the orange.

The production centres on Yuletide celebrations. Each cast member receives a gift, which in turn leads to a short story; tales from the region such as The Cauld Lad of Hylton Castle and The Men of Lorbottle.

It’s here that we meet a host of colourful characters, from knights and damsels to dragons and fairies – all brought to life in different ways, including puppetry.

The four-person cast of Bidi Iredale, Eleanor Dennison, Justine Adams and Louis Roberts shines brighter than the star leading the way to Bethlehem.

Their ability to switch between a host of characters, often many times within each short play, is impressive.

This is aided by the clever use of props and a well-designed set, which, although small and relatively simplistic, allowed the cast to draw so much out of it.

They certainly are a talented bunch at NTC. But it doesn’t stop at the cast and crew.

Even the company’s finance officer, Karen Hirst, has got in on the act, as the Alnwick-based group worked with her original script.

Artistic director Gillian Hambleton has recently won an award from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain for the encouragement of new writing, for supporting Bob Shannon in an earlier production.

Once Upon a Time in the North is once again proof that NTC is committed to developing the arts, working and supporting actors and playwrites.

As for the tour itself, NTC gave special schools’ performances last week before it opened to the public last Saturday at Glanton.

The show is going to venues around the North East and Borders and will be calling in at Capheaton Village Hall on Monday, December 23, at 6.30pm, and Christmas Eve, at 1pm.

It closes on Saturday, December 28, in Blyth.

For more details, including times and ticket details, visit www.northumberlandtheatre.co.uk

 

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