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Armagh pupils left in lurch as play is pulled after poppin' down to Dublin

By Catherine McCurry

Published 17/12/2015

Portadown College students outside the theatre
Portadown College students outside the theatre
Portadown College pupils Lucy Stevenson and Sarah Johnston

Drama students from Co Armagh were dished out a spoonful of disappointment after travelling for more than two hours to see a West End play - only to find it has been cancelled.

Pupils and staff from Portadown College arrived at the aptly named Misery Hill-based theatre in Dublin 20 minutes before hit musical Mary Poppins was due to start.

However, the disgruntled drama group were turned away by management at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, who informed them it had been called off.

A spokesman for the theatre released a statement apologising and explaining that the two leading young characters who play Jane and Michael Banks experienced "severe travel difficulties" coming into Dublin from London on Tuesday afternoon, which led to the show being cancelled.

"This was due to a delayed flight, which was subsequently cancelled due to a technical problem," the statement continued.

The theatre has been hit with criticism after it gave ticket-holders just an hour's notice before show-time.

The Portadown grammar school forked out £300 on transport for the trip, which was organised for students' assessments.

The 18 students and four staff were offered full refunds, but the school says that's not enough.

Ruth Murphy, an English teacher, said they wanted a refund for their travel costs.

She said: "We were all really disappointed after paying £300 to take the bus down.

"We were refunded our ticket money but not the transport and we felt we would hang on to see if we could get the transport costs back from the theatre. The management was not very gracious at all, no feeling of 'this is awful, we are sorry for you'; it was simply this is tough and beyond our control.

"We felt they should have had a contingency plan. We had to turn and come home again. And for the AS Drama class, that's part of their Christmas assessment. They should have been writing about it as part of their course.

"They have four sets of child cast but the children legally have to go home once a week on their day off.

"They went home over the weekend and were due to fly back on the 2pm flight on Tuesday, but even to do that we felt was leaving it a bit late."

No one was available for comment when the theatre was contacted last night.

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