STAR students brought the house down as shepherds and storm troopers rocked the stage at a seasonal song and dance spectacular.

Pupils at Marhcbank Free School, Darlington, hand-jived and toe-tapped their way through a rock and roll religious recital of the greatest story ever told.

A large number of the Darlington school’s students took part in the modern take of the traditional Christmas play ‘Nativity Rock’, which included a mixture of stirring gospel songs and gentle lullabies.

Principal of Marchbank Free School Mandy Southwick said: “This is our third annual nativity play and our students have worked incredibly hard to learn their parts.

“Some of them found it quite difficult at first but they have all put in a hundred percent effort and it has been incredible to see their confidence grow as they have performed.

“We wanted to put on a traditional nativity but also to give it a twist and the best part of all was that every single person in the cast and audience tonight thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Highlights of the show included King Herod and his storm trooper henchmen chasing the wise men through the desert and a stunning solo singing performance by nine-year-old Hollie McGee who took on the lead role of Mary.

Music teacher Andrew Meadowcroft, who has been working with the students since October to perfect their performances, added: “We had seven songs to perform during the play and two extra special numbers at the end, so it was quite a challenge for everyone.

“The students were absolutely awesome on the stage tonight and although some of them were very nervous to perform in front of such a large audience they really came alive.”

The performance concluded with a rousing medley of all seven Nativity Rock songs which was met with rapturous applause by watching friends and family.