The biggest Rose Theatre cast will take audiences on a magic carpet ride in their next production – part of the International Youth Arts Festival.

The Rose Youth Theatre will be performing Arabian Nights alongside two professionals acting as masters of ceremonies in the traditional tale.

Playwright Ciaran McConville said: “It is a brilliant new play written especially for the kids. It is the biggest cast we have ever had on our stage, with 65 in total.

“It is a huge undertaking in terms of numbers. What is really special is that we’re casting a couple of professional actors.”

The Rose Theatre will be adding its own twist to the age-old story, which will be set in a school in the modern-day Middle East.

Mr McConville said: “It is set in a classroom of a school, which has been bombed. There is a sultan who is marrying local girls. And this one girl called Sheherazade has agreed to marry him.

“But she tells him all these stories in the class room, and as she does so, all of the ghosts of the little children come to life and act out the stories.”

Known for ditching the traditional Christmas pantomime, Mr McConville said the script is unusually panto-esque.

He said: “There is a huge amount of silliness and lots of jokes and lots for the kids to get into with the Arabian Nights, and something quite moving as well.”

The company has chosen five stories to tell, among them Aladdin, Sinbad, and Allya Baba, with a female protagonist.

Eamonn O’Dwyer has composed an original score for the play.

He said: “This is an ensemble play in which the children create rich and intoxicating worlds in an imaginative way.

“I wanted the music to lift their own invention into something quite epic, whilst keeping all the humour and charm of the stories.”

Mr McConville added: “We are really proud of our young company.”

Arabian Nights – A new version by Ciaran McConville; the Rose Theatre, High Street, Kingston; July 20-22; for performance times and more details call 08444 821556 or visit