YESTERDAY, I debriefed with our artistic programmes manager, on our production of The Railway Children that opened last week.

Whilst I assume the role of director, she takes on that of producer, like many others in our small team who add new roles to their existing full-time jobs to produce our family musical each year. You would be mistaken to think this is simply a job for Christmas!

Watching the previews, I pondered how many hours had gone in to planning the minutiae of this show. It is rewarding to see the meticulous planning, imaginings and production elements come together in front of appreciative audiences.

It’s not easy finding a show that ticks all our boxes; musical with rousing numbers, small cast where actors can double-up, capacity for young people’s ensemble and of course that Christmas ‘feel-good’ factor. Often, we find one, only to discover the rights are not available to perform it. When we do secure the rights, we simultaneously kiss goodbye to about 18% of our box office once commission and hiring of materials is accounted for.

I remember the collective sigh of relief when we heard that our Arts Council funding application was successful (covering around 10% of the costs). An initial meeting with designer Eloise Philpot in the Southbank Centre brainstorming the design concept and furiously sketching pictures in our notebooks. The seven days of auditions in Taunton and London, from the Royal Academy of Drama’s damp and dingey basement, to the opulent Toynbee ‘penthouse’ studio overlooking the City of London, where secretive West End castings were taking place in the adjacent studio.

I lost count of how many bids we placed on Ebay trying to secure a spiral staircase and the sleep I lost over the revolve. I smile in the knowledge that our sound designer sourced authentic sound clips from the Flying Scotsman and carols played on Edwardian gramophones and recall the patience of our choreographer as she taught the company how to tap spring for the 32nd time. The endless proofing of marketing materials and chasing up of the companies producing, distributing and displaying them.

It is a tour de force to by the whole company, grease-paint cogs that turn in synchronicity throughout the year to arrive, as the character Perks would say ‘All on Time’ for Press Night. So, climb aboard this Christmas and enjoy the show!

Vanessa Lefrancois, Chief Executive of Taunton Theatre Association