NESCol students bring the spirit of Christmas to Polar Express Train Ride

December 13, 2021

This month, a group of current and former NESCol students, along with a lecturer from the College, are helping families find the spirit of Christmas on The Polar ExpressTM Train Ride at the Caledonian Railway in Brechin.

Nineteen current and former drama students play characters from the 2004 film to recreate the magical journey to the North Pole for families on the train. This live event is being directed by NESCol drama lecturer Hannah MacBeth.  She said: “When I discovered that Caledonian Railway were looking for someone to direct the project, I thought it would be a great challenge but also a rare opportunity to get myself and the students involved with a big name like Warner Brothers who created the original film.”

Hannah recruited suitable individuals to play each of the roles and arranged rehearsals as she would for a regular stage production. She said: “It is an incredible experience for the students and alumni – after all it’s not every day you get to perform on a moving train! It is so different to anything they have done before but they have done a fantastic job and I’m really proud of them all.”  During the 45 minute immersive journey, the actors sing, dance and interact with each other as well as the children and their families while remaining in character.

On top of visiting the North Pole (at Bridge of Dun), a highlight of the journey is Santa presenting the children with ‘the first gift of Christmas’ in the form of the iconic silver bell from the film. Hannah said: “The atmosphere on the train is wonderful – the children come dressed in their pyjamas and are given hot chocolate and cookies. It really feels like we’re in the film, especially when we arrive at our destination and they can see the North Pole outside.”

The icing on the cake for Hannah was feedback from the Polar ExpressTM franchise owners.  She said: “People from Warner Brothers joined one of the first journeys to see what the experience on our train was like and their feedback was fantastic! The first weekend went really well and we’re all excited to take more visitors on this special and unique journey.”


*all relevant covid requirements are being followed by the performers.