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A Christmas Star Young Cast Unveiled!

Posted on 17th October 2014 | Cinemagic News

A host of budding young actors were today announced as the lucky leading cast members of a Northern Ireland Christmas feature film, the first of its kind, to be made by Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People.

A Christmas Star is a heart-warming story of a spirited young girl who charms an entire village. Thousands of hopefuls auditioned earlier this year for what promises to be a truly life-changing opportunity for its young cast: Erin Galway-Kendrick (Newtownards), John Moan (Warrenpoint), James Stockdale (Dungannon), Alecoe Haughey (Co. Donegal), Zena Donnelly and Amy Dunne (Dublin), Mainie Mulholland (Lurgan), Sean Ronan (Co. Kildare), Joshua Smyth (Crossgar) and Patrick Roe and Aoife Hughes (Newry). 

Cinemagic Chief Executive, Joan Burney Keatings, MBE said: “Our Christmas feature film will bring young people from different cultural backgrounds together, and representatives from the worlds of film, television and music will collaborate to celebrate creativity and highlight the importance of developing young people’s skills and offering them unique film and television related opportunities.

“The industry professionals will mentor the young cast and crew throughout the film production process from script to screen, giving invaluable insights to the world of filmmaking across various film disciplines ranging from directing, acting and production to script editing, film composition, and costume/makeup.

“The young people will finish the project with a wealth of skills, experience, and, most importantly, their first credit on a feature film.”


Casting director John Hubbard, Cinemagic patron and one of the top casting agents in the UK and Ireland said: “I spent the most amazing three days auditioning so many talented young people. We saw thousands - definitely one of our biggest ever casting calls. The standard was unbelievably high and choosing the final line-up was far from easy. The cast of A Christmas Star are about to have the adventure of a lifetime, but it will also require total commitment and team work, equipping them with skills for life regardless of whether or not they continue in the acting profession. And for those who didn't make it through this time, it was still a wonderful experience for them to have at such a young age and I'm sure we will see some of them auditioning again in the future.”


A host of film and television professionals will lend their support to the ground-breaking film production that will engage with hundreds of young people, marking the beginning of a year of Cinemagic’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Among those involved in the production are Cinemagic patrons Liam Neeson, Bronagh Waugh (The Fall) and Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey, The Crimson Field), Oscar winning film producer, Gareth Ellis Unwin (The King’s Speech), director Richard Elson (M.I. High, Shadow Trade, Steffi), award winning film composer, Patrick Doyle, (Brave, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Music Supervisor, Maggie Rodford, (The King’s Speech, Anna Karenina), camera operator, Ian Fox, (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man), producer, Iain Smith, (Children of Men, Mad Max, Fury Road), and production manager, Terry Bamber (The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Skyfall).

The Fall actress Bronagh Waugh, who will appear in A Christmas Star, said:

“I have been involved with Cinemagic for a number of years, both as a participant and now as a patron, and I am so impressed with the work that it does with young people who want to get into the creative industries. A Christmas Star is a delightful script and I love the whole concept of actors like myself working alongside the young cast and crew on this film.”

Making the final cut has been a dream come true for the young people who will be part of an exciting three-week film shoot in November and December in locations around Belfast and Glenarm.

The leading role of Noelle, the heroine of the film, will be played by Erin Galway-Kendrick from Newtownards. The 12-year-old pupil from Regent House School said: “I am so excited to be a part of A Christmas Star and I am very grateful to Cinemagic for casting me as Noelle. It’s going to be a fantastic experience and a wonderful film. I can't wait to meet everyone and start filming.”

9-year-old Aoife Hughes from Newry who attends Rowandale Integrated Primary School said: “This is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I cannot wait to be part of the movie! I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity considering the number of children who auditioned. I am so excited anticipating what it will be like to perform in a movie. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends, working together as a cast and having great fun!”

12 year-old John Moan lives in Warrenpoint and attends Abbey Grammar in Newry. His mother Jane said: “This has been John’s first audition and I am so impressed with how engaged he has been with the whole process.”


11-year old Alecoe Haughey from Killybegs in Co. Donegal attends Niall Mor NS. Her mother Anne said: “From an early age she performed little shows at home with her brother and declared almost from when she could speak that she wanted to be an actress. Finding out she has been selected for a part in A Christmas Star is just a dream come true for Alecoe. She has enjoyed every minute of each audition. She has made new friends and hopefully will make a lot more. With each additional callback her confidence grew and getting the final offer of a part was just a joy beyond words for Alecoe. She just can't wait for the filming to begin.”


This unique, educational and cultural film will be screened by BBC NI and UTV simultaneously at Christmas time in 2015, and will further reach a global audience through Cinemagic in the USA, Great Britain and Ireland.

The project is supported by OFMDFM, Creative Skillset, Tourism Ireland, Aer Lingus, BBC NI, UTV, Department for Social Development, George Best Belfast City Airport and Arts & Business Northern Ireland. The remaining finance for A Christmas Star will be sourced through a crowd-funding campaign that will offer perks from signed scripts and crew T-shirts to a walk-on role in the film. Find out more at www.indiegogo.com.

For further details on A Christmas Star visit www.cinemagic.org.uk or search for the film on facebook and twitter.  


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Press Information
For further information, contact Richard Gaston 07903 085533 or richard@cinemagic.org.uk

Notes to Editors:


The principal characters of A CHRISTMAS STAR have been cast as follows:


NOELLE: Erin Galway-Kendrick,12 years old, from Newtownards.
JUNIOR: John Moan, turns 13 years old on 19 October, from Warrenpoint.
SPUD-BOB: James Stockdale, 13 years old, from Dungannon.
BERNADETTE: Alecoe Haughey, 11 years old, from Killybegs in Co. Donegal.
CUTIE PIE: Amy Dunne, 11 years old, from Clonsilla, Dublin.
BUBBLE: Mainie Mulholland, 11 years old, from Lurgan.
iPADDY: Patrick Roe, 11 years old, from Dromintee, Newry.
THOMAS: Sean Ronan, 11 years old, from Celbridge, Co Kildare.
WHITNEY: Zena Donnelly, 12 years old, from Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
DICEY: Joshua Smyth, 12 years old, from Crossgar.
CUCKOO: Aoife Hughes, 9 years old, from Bessbrook, Newry.

Cinemagic Patrons

  • Liam Neeson
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Dermot O‚ÄôLeary
  • Terry George
  • Brian Cox
  • Lisa Henson
  • Suranne Jones
  • Julian Fellowes
  • Christine Bleakley
  • Seamus McGarvey
  • Ciaran McMenamin
  • Colin Farrell
  • Patrick Bergin
  • Ros Hubbard
  • John Hubbard
  • Gary Knell
  • Rachel Kavanagh
  • Aidan Power
  • Mark Huffam
  • Saoirse Ronan
  • Craig Doyle
  • Robbie Sheehan
  • Bruce Reynolds
  • Marc Mallett
  • Bronagh Waugh