Southern Regional College broadcast the spirit of Christmas into schools and homes across the country on Thursday as thousands of school pupils from hundreds of schools across Northern Ireland took part in and virtually attended what could be the region’s biggest ever Christmas pantomime this year.

With many traditional school Christmas plays paused this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a boldly creative team in performing arts, music, media, art, hair and beauty from Southern Regional College in Armagh have come together to present the College’s first ever online pantomime with an exciting new take on Beauty and the Beast. In a digital feat for the ages, the pantomime was live streamed into homes and classrooms across Northern Ireland to provide a safe, festive celebration for students across the country.

The original cast is made up of more than 27 local students from Southern Regional College but video contributions from primary, secondary and special schools right across Northern Ireland were also included in this special one-off production.

Up to 500 primary, secondary and special schools and more than 20,000 students and staff safely viewed the livestreamed production on Thursday 10 December from classrooms and homes across Northern Ireland.

Rehearsals for the main elements of the show were carried out observing full safety guidelines at the new and spacious £35 million state-of-the-art Armagh campus which is home to theory and practical-based learning in a range of creative subjects including dance, music, performing arts and photography which are delivered in industry-leading facilities.

Facilitating the production was also a major technical feat which required comprehensive planning and logistics including the extensive use of separate rooms, spaces and timelines for filming to ensure everyone’s safety and full compliance with public health guidelines.

The full cast is made up of Level 3 Performing Arts students and all music used throughout the performance has been originally written and was performed by Level 3 Music students, with live sound production and filming undertaken by students from the Level 5 HND Music course.