AS movement and assistant director of The Brewhouse’s Christmas production of The Railway Children, I’ve been working with the theatre for several years now in varying roles.

In 2015, having only recently graduated from the MTA (Musical Theatre Academy) in London, I had the opportunity to choreograph my first show in Fairfield Halls, Croydon. It was one of my very first jobs after training and was part funded by the theatre in support of new writing.

While on this job I met the lovely set designer, Cleo Pettitt who worked on Brewhouse productions of Around the World in 80 Days and A Christmas Carol. But it wasn’t until 2017 that she got in touch to say that she was working on The Wizard of Oz and wanted to know if I was interested in being an assistant director on the show. This is the funny thing about the arts industry – you never know who you’ll meet and where these work connections will take you in your career.

I jumped at the chance to work as an assistant director and choreographer on The Wizard of Oz, having worked on a few other jobs throughout the year as a choreographer while seeking more experience as a director also. I hadn’t been to Taunton before, but had studied at Exeter University so had once lived quite nearby.

I received a message from Vanessa Lefrancois asking if I could attend the auditions that morning. Once I arrived, she quickly taught me the routine for the dance call and then the auditions were underway. That was essentially also my audition for the job and soon after this whirlwind experience I began work on The Wizard of Oz with the responsibility of choreographing the Jitterbug, running at five minutes long.

Living in London meant that I had to relocate to Taunton for the rehearsal period where I stayed with one of the many generous volunteers from the Brewhouse. The theatre has such a lovely atmosphere, with excellent staff dedicated to the arts and who all work with the goal of providing education and fun for its community.

One of the things that I love about these Christmas productions is that they allow local children to get involved in a professional show, learn from a professional cast and experience what it’s like to perform a musical; all coming from various backgrounds and levels of experience within performing. Hopefully it is something that the whole family can enjoy this Christmas!

Column by Penelope Simons, movement and assistant director of The Railway Children