Kynren actors who fight as Vikings get engaged on stage at the epic County Durham theatre show

Two volunteer actors who met while performing in County Durham‘s open-air epic Kynren have got engaged on stage.

Dave Churm, 28, and Shannon Walton 24, first signed up as volunteers way back in 2017, but after a “failed date” in 2018, it took until just before the coronavirus lockdown for them to get together properly. Then, on opening night at the Bishop Auckland spectacular last year, Dave proposed – though disaster almost struck when the ring box fell down his trousers.

They even got engaged dressed as Shakespeare characters Juliet and Puck. Dave is an engineer for a pharmaceutical company while Shannon works as a children’s sports coach. Now, their wedding will feature a few nods to Kynren – and up to 50 of their friends from the massive North East production.

The pair live together in Shildon. Dave spoke about how they now fight together on stage, as Vikings!

He said: “We have a scene where we fight each other as Vikings and we do combat where she’ll knock me to the floor and kick me. I normally lose that fight but it is fun to have those sorts of links together. I wanted the show to be part of the proposal because it’s how we met and it’s a place that is special to us.”

Dave proposed to Shannon onstage after the show's opening performance in July 2023
Dave proposed to Shannon onstage after the show’s opening performance in July 2023
(Image: PA Real Life)

In that first summer – at the show which takes place every weekend – they took part as fire spinners and had a scene onstage together where they fought each other. Last year, during the Shakespeare section of the show, Shannon played Juliet from Romeo and Juliet while Dave was Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

After going on what they called a “failed date” in 2018 it was not until two years later that they managed a second. Dave said: “We’d tried to go on a date but she didn’t turn up and then an hour later, I found out that her car wasn’t working.

“Eventually we did meet up, we were watching a film and I was asking the basic date questions, trying to find out where she was originally from because she was born in Germany which I thought was really cool. Suddenly, she stopped answering and I realised she fell asleep.”

Thinking that Shannon was not interested, Dave did not ask for a second date but the pair stayed in touch – and that second date did happen in January 2020.

Dave Churm and Shannon Walton - who met, and got engaged, during Kynren
Dave Churm and Shannon Walton – who met, and got engaged, during Kynren
(Image: PA)

Shannon said: “We managed to go on quite a few dates in January and February before everything got locked down. We didn’t quarantine together but I used to go to his and sit in the garden two metres away.”

In August 2022, the couple moved in together and Dave began thinking of ways to propose to Shannon. He added: “Over a year ago, I floated the idea of a Kynren proposal sort of as a joke just to see her reaction and she was very against the idea, but coming up to last year’s proposal she seemed to start coming back round to the idea.

“Obviously, it’s where we met, where our relationship grew, and where a lot of our friends are now so I thought it’d be the perfect place for us. No-one knew ahead of time apart from one person on our team because I wanted to make sure it stayed a surprise.”

With that in mind, Dave started taking small boxes to work in his bag to see if Shannon would find them and, when she did not, he smuggled the real ring box to Kynren with them.

Dave said: “So we do the Shakespeare scene together, Shannon as Juliet and I do the character Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On the finale, we go out together in those costumes so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity. I managed to sneak the ring into my waistband and we walked up to the finale together and then the ring box dropped. I started to panic, but it got caught in the bottom of the trousers.

“I managed to shuffle in for our finale and then I waited until after all the fireworks. The lights sort of dim down and we’re meant to wander off the stage. I waited until that moment so that we weren’t stealing the limelight from the show.”

When the dramatic firework display had finished, Dave got down on one knee on stage and popped the question.

Shannon said: “I think the first thing I said was, ‘are you serious?’ when he said ‘yeah’, of course I said yes. It’s a meaningful place for us both and my best friend who first volunteered with me realised what was happening and ran over and she cried.”

After the proposal, Dave and Shannon looked on social media to see if any audience members had spotted what had happened.

Dave said: “We normally look on social media after each performance to try and spot each other in the scenes and there was one video I found where you hear somebody shout out that there’s a proposal and then we get a little cheer from one section of the audience.”

Now, the couple are looking forward to their wedding, set for October this year, and they plan to acknowledge the way they met.

“Shannon has made a little Viking ship which is going to sit on the head table with us because we do the Viking fight scenes together,” said Dave. “We’ve invited around 50 people from Kynren to the wedding so there will be a lot of people from the production there to celebrate with us.”

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View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/kynren-actors-who-fight-vikings-29063786

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