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Record crowds watch The Wonder Christmas show

PUBLISHED: 09:42 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 18 December 2019

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

Jessica Sansom

A church has grand plans to attract thousands more people to its festive spectacular next year after a record-breaking crowd this year.

Families enjoying The Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica SansomFamilies enjoying The Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

SOUL Church on Mason Road, Norwich, put on its free family show, The Wonder, for the fifth year.

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica SansomThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

It attracted over 10,000 people to its 14 shows which were performed across two weekends for the first time.

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica SansomThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

Pastor Jon Norman, co-founder of SOUL Church, said he had ambitions to attract between 4,000 and 5,000 more people across next year's performances of The Wonder which would continue over two weekends.

The Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica SansomThe Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

Mr Norman, 41, who co-founded the church in 2014 with his wife Chantel, said: "This year's show went above and beyond anything we could have imagined. About 300 volunteers were involved per show to help set it up. We are so grateful for everything they did.

The Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica SansomThe Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jessica Sansom

"The Wonder brings a sense of community. It means families can get together at Christmas. One of the greatest gifts we can bring is the gift of memories."

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jonny VaccaThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jonny Vacca

The audience included people from across Norfolk, Suffolk and as far as Colchester and London, according to Mr Norman.

Father Christmas inThe Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jonny VaccaFather Christmas inThe Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Jonny Vacca

He added that there was a great sense of camaraderie within the cast and production crew who were are all volunteers and ranged from youngsters aged seven up to people in their 70s.

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Joyce PfeiferThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Joyce Pfeifer

"To do the show 14 times is highly commendable," Mr Norman added.

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Joyce PfeiferThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Joyce Pfeifer

The pastor, who is also chaplain of Norwich City Football Club, said SOUL Church wanted to put on two extra shows next Christmas as well as remove some of the walls in the church room where it is held to boost the production.

Cast members performingThe Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Arthur Rudd JnrCast members performingThe Wonder 2019 which was performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Arthur Rudd Jnr

This year's 85-minute musical show included popular children's television and film characters but it also focused on the traditional Christmas story of Jesus Christ.

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Arthur Rudd JnrThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Arthur Rudd Jnr

It is hoped that in 2021 the performance will be held at the new £7m venue of SOUL Church which will be built on Heartsease Lane, Norwich.

The cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Arthur Rudd JnrThe cast of The Wonder 2019 performed by SOUL Church on Mason Road in Norwich. Picture: Arthur Rudd Jnr

It moved to Mason Road from Heartsease Lane after the former Mount Zion Family Life Centre, renamed SOUL Church, was burnt down in February 2006 after being struck by lightning.

A shortened version of The Wonder will be performed before the Norwich City home match against Wolves on Saturday, December 21.

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