AT the age of just 11, Ribble Valley youngster Charlie Birtwistle is already a veteran of the stage.

In November he will be playing a key role in the hit show Elf the Musical at the Lowry, Salford Quays – the third time he will have performed in a major production at the venue.

Previously Charlie, a pupil at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, has appeared in Wind in the Willows and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Based on the hit movie starring Will Ferrell, Elf the Musical is one of the most eagerly-anticipated shows in the North West over the festive season having been a huge hit in London’s West End.

It tells the story of Buddy, who is raised as an Elf in Santa’s workshop but who returns to New York to find his real father.

Charlie is one of four young actors who will play Buddy’s half brother Michael over the course of the show’s seven-week run.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Charlie. “It’s quite cool seeing how much hype there is around the show as it will be the first time it’s been outside the West End.”

Charlie, who lives in Whalley with mum Lynsey and dad Justin auditioned for the part back in June.

“I found out virtually straight away that I had got the part of Michael,” he said. “That was really exciting.”

Later this month, Charlie will go down to London for the start of rehearsals and then move to Plymouth where the show will take shape before transferring for its festive season run in Manchester.

“We will have tutors to make sure we don’t miss our school work,” said Charlie. “The four of us who play Michael will have lessons for four hours every morning and then go into rehearsals in the afternoon.

“It is going to be quite hard work but we are all looking forward to it.”

Because of their age, the young actors will split the eight shows a week between them.

“I’ve always liked the film Elf,” said Charlie, “and I’m really looking forward to doing the snowball scene, that’s going to be fun.”

Charlie, who attends the Carol Godby Theatre Workshop in Bury, has performed in a number of productions and workshops at the Lowry.

“I just really enjoy being on stage,” he said.

Elf the Musical being at the Lowry means that all his family and friends can get along to see the show including Charlie’s brother Toby, eight, and sister Freya, six.

“For Toby it’s all about football like my dad,” said Charlie, “but Freya is more interested in the theatre I think. My mum’s a good singer and she used to dance a bit too so I think that’s where I got it from.”

Elf the Musical stars Ben Forster who also played Buddy in the West End production and Liz McClarnon as his girlfriend Jovie. It runs at the Lowry, Salford Quays from Friday, November 24 until Sunday, January 14. Details from 0843 208 6005 or