TALENTED young stage stars will strut their stuff in a busy season of performances at one of the North-East's leading theatres.

The Gala Theatre Stage School is busy preparing for three major stage shows, highlighting the diversity of the students, who are now well established on the youth theatre scene.

More than 240 singers, dancers and acting all-rounders, aged five to 19, will take part in the summer productions in Durham's Gala Theatre.

The stage school has flourished in the two-and-a-half years since it was set up by director Lisa Thorner, Durham City Council's leisure and arts development officer.

This summer's programme includes the senior stage school tackling the successful West End musical spectacular Les Miserables, on a revolving stage.

Ms Thorner said: "It has been my dream to direct and produce Les Miserables, and now in my final year with the stage school, I am able to fulfil that ambition.

"We have auditioned for the principal cast and we have an exceptional group of young people who will be playing the leads."

It features talented newcomer, 14-year-old Matthew Corner, from Darlington, as Marius, alongside female lead Vicky Gimby, as Eponine, who Lisa predicts is bound for the West End.

Les Miserables, running from August 2 to 6, will be preceded by the school's production of A Chorus Line, from June 30 to July 2, and the junior stage school's musical version of Peter Pan, on June 18 and 19.

The stage school, sponsored by Jan Eddleston, gave a flavour of the forthcoming season in a showcase set performed for Durham Mayor, Councillor Mary Hawgood, at the theatre.

Tickets are available from the Gala box office on 0191-332 4041.