Festive play could star on TV

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Harrogate-based Brackenfield School could see its Christmas play taken from the school hall to millions of TV screens across the UK after being named as a finalists in Virgin Media’s Christmas Stars contest.

It is the second time the school has been shortlisted for the competition. In 2018, the school was named as a regional semi-finalist and won £100. The school is now hoping it can scoop the top prize in 2019’s competition: the chance to have its play professionally filmed and televised to four million Virgin TV customers in the days leading up to Christmas.

As part of the money-can’t-buy-prize, the winners will work with TV presenter, Stephen Mulhern, who will join the school’s cast playing the role of narrator for a one-off performance.

The school entered a Christmas play called A Royal Christmas.

The production tells the story of The Queen and Prince Philip’s Christmas, including a trip to Selfridges to get presents for their great grandchildren, being entertained by carol singers at Sandringham, dressing the tree with Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The Royals are also treated to a pantomime and get to watch the Brackenfield School Nativity before retiring to bed. The play ends with the Queen’s Speech on Christmas afternoon.

In its entry, Brackenfield said it deserved to win because: “The script has been written carefully to enable each and every child to have equal amounts of stage time as well as the opportunity to sing, dance and play instruments throughout the show.

“Our shows always incorporate the true story of Christmas, carefully intertwined with another festive tale. Our plays also always include at least one original song written by our staff.

“This year we are excited to be performing ‘A Royal Christmas’ complete with the Royal family, dancing corgis, kazoos, a pantomime and much more. Please come.”

As well as being shortlisted to have its Christmas play televised on Virgin TV, Brackenfield is also guaranteed to win a prize.

The winners of the competition will unwrap £5,000 and receive unforgettable experiences thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit West End show, School of Rock the Musical.

A class from the school will be invited to the show’s Gillian Lynne Theatre in London for an electric, rip-roaring performance masterclass from the cast.

Afterwards, the children will also be treated to tickets to watch the blockbuster show and see the talented cast in action.

To keep the Christmas spirit going, School of Rock the Musical will generously give the winning school 10 ukuleles so they can strum their way into 2020.

And, as it’ll be the season of goodwill, there are plenty of other prizes. The runner up school will win £1,000 plus 15 ukuleles, while 22 regional finalists will win £100 and 2 ukuleles each.

David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, said: “A huge congratulations to Harrogate’s Brackenfield for being named as a finalist in our magical Christmas Stars competition.

“Its production has the perfect ingredients for a feel-good festive play which could be enjoyed by millions of Virgin TV customers this Christmas.

“Stay tuned to find out who will be our winner – good luck everyone at Brackenfield!”

A panel of judges including Stephen Mulhern and representatives from Virgin Media and School of the Rock the Musical, will preside over the shortlist and select the winner, runner up and 22 regional finalists.

Virgin Media will then film the school’s production and make it available, on-demand, to millions of Virgin TV customers this Christmas.