AN AMATEUR theatre company is busy with final rehearsals for ambitious production of A Tale of Two Cities – and for a flying visit from the Broadway hit’s author.

The Durham Musical Theatre Company (DMTC) is staging the northern premier of the musical, at Durham’s Gala Theatre, from Tuesday (April 8) to Saturday (April 12).

Jill Santoriello, who wrote the book and lyrics, as well as composing the music for the show, will be flying over from America to see the production.

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She has been involved with multi-million dollar productions of the musical all over the world and produced the concert of the show with Michael York as narrator, which was filmed and released on DVD.

Ms Santoriello has already given advice about music to the DMTC’s musical director Steven Hood.

The latest production, directed by Fred Wharton with choreography by Janet Dixon, will be very much a family affair for the Waltons of Thornley, in east Durham.

Parents Graeme and Katy Walton are starring in the lead roles of Sydney Carton and Lucie Manette while Sarah and Jack on in the chorus.

Heidi Walton, seven, is sharing the role of Young Lucie with Gracie Peacock, 10, of Sunderland.

Mr Walton said: “I am so proud that all the children are appearing with us in this show.”

The DMTC has assembled a cast of nearly 70 performers for the production.

The mayors of both London and Parish, Boris Johnson and Bertrand Delanoe have sent good luck messages to DMTC.

Tickets are available from the Gala Theatre Box Office on 03000-266600 or

Evening performances are at 7.15pm with 2.15pm matinees on Wednesday and Saturday.