FAMILY is important to everyone at Christmas, especially to those at The Brewhouse this year who decided that the Christmas production was going to be The Railway Children.

Vanessa LeFrancois, production director, explained that each year at The Brewhouse, they search for a musical related to Christmas.

The Railway Children starts and ends on Christmas Eve, with a few Christmas musical numbers along the way.

Vanessa believes that the production is filled with so many relevant themes, such as social exclusion and inclusion, prejudice and ignorance, resilience, good and evil, loss of innocence and of course, the importance of family.

Vanessa explained: “As the artistic director of the Bewhouse, it is important for me to put my artistic stamp on the Christmas shows. It is all about bringing quality productions to Taunton at Christmas.”

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Hannah Morrison is returning to the Brewhouse this year playing the character of Bobbie, after playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz last year. Hannah started performing at the age of eight in her local production of Scrooge the musical and so Christmas shows will always have a “special place in her heart”.

Hannah sad: “Bobbie is an intelligent young girl who is becoming a woman. She is unbelievably kind and empathetic, filled with curiosity. A natural born leader and the eldest of the railway children.

“I love the part where the children use their own initiative to get their mother the things she needs in order to get better after falling ill. I think it is a real turning point for the children, when they realise they can look after some things themselves.

“Everyone at the Brewhouse is so lovely and hardworking. There is a family feel to the community at The Brewhouse. I have some great memories from last year and am looking forward to adding to those this year!”

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Phil Sealey is also returning this year, after being involved in The Christmas Carol a few years ago. In The Railway Children, he is playing the character of Mr Perks, the Station Master.

He said: “Mr Perks is a very nice fellow, a simple soul in the best way.

“My favourite moment in the show is when the London children arrive in Taunton and meet the local kids. They sing a song called Posh Talk and it is about children from two different upbringings realising they don’t have to be scared because they are different.

“It is great because it shows kids being kids without their modern distractions. It is a nostalgic song of a simpler age.”

Vanessa explained that there is a lot of preparation that goes into each Christmas show even before the principal characters arrive (this year they didn’t arrive at The Brewhouse until November 15).

Two people who have been working hard behind the scenes are Elle Rose, set and costume designer, and Lisa Tustian, musical director.

Elle and Vanessa approached this musical set in 1906 with a naturalistic, authentic and traditional design approach due to the hard-hitting themes such as poverty, illness and imprisonment.

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Elle added: “Key inspiration shown through my design is seen in the wealthy London drawing room, where I’ve created dark wooden floors and panelling, oriental style rugs and rich coloured damask wallpaper - all of which were highly fashionable at the time and juxtaposes the aesthetics of the country cottage.

“For this production my wonderful wardrobe assistant, Emily, and myself have sourced, made and altered all 82 costumes seen on stage. This involves a mixture of visiting hire houses, searching vintage/second hand stores, fabric shops and markets before fitting the garments to our performers and altering them.”

As well as the costumes and the set, music is also a huge part of The Railway Children – well, it is a musical after all. Lisa has been part of the last three Taunton Theatre Association shows and every time has been impressed with the quality – and so is very much looking forward to the show this Christmas.

Lisa added: “Music brings a wonderful extra dimension to theatre - it is a universal language and it can contribute so much to atmosphere and in enhancing the emotions portrayed in a show.

“In these strange times, politically, it is vitally important to support the creative arts in our area, and what better way to do it than enjoying a wonderful evening out with your friends and family, taking in the talents of an incredible professional cast, brought down here to entertain you, plus lots of talented local young people. Who knows you might see on the London stage or our TV screens in years to come!”

The Railway Children runs from December 9 until December 30 at The Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton at various times. Tickets cost £18.50.

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