It seems like a wonderful idea in theory - a stage musical based around the most magical Irish family television event of the year.

In reality, it seems that Toy Show: The Musical has not been as warmly received by the public as RTE bosses may have anticipated.

The show, which is currently running at Dublin's Convention Centre after opening there last week, and features original songs by pop songwriter Ruth-Anne Cunningham, has cancelled five performances - citing illness among the cast as the reason.

The affected shows were due to take place on Saturday and Sunday with RTE releasing a statement saying "It is with deep regret that due to illness in the cast and crew that RTÉ Toy Show the Musical had to cancel its afternoon and evening shows today and its three shows tomorrow.

It is believed that Saturday afternoon's performance was cancelled at the 11th hour, when the audience were seated and waiting for the show to begin.

"The team did everything possible to avoid this situation and are truly sorry for the inconvenience caused. Our ticketing partner, Ticketsolve will be in touch as soon as possible with those with tickets for cancelled shows regarding rescheduling or refund options.

"We will announce any changes to planned shows from Tuesday as soon as we have more information on the impact of illness on the cast and crew. Again, very sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused."

Over the weekend, RTE Director-General Dee Forbes was forced to publicly defend the show in an Op-Ed in the Irish Independent. Earlier in the week, the issue of the musical's funding had been raised in the Dail, while one critic denounced it as "A cynical, arrogant money-grab by an organisation that appears to have forgotten its primary purpose.”

"As media fragments, RTÉ, as a dual funded public service media organisation, has an obligation to diversify its commercial activities beyond advertising. We must try new things, to grow and sustain all we are obliged to do," Forbes wrote. "Inevitably when we do something new, it attracts attention. While the BBC (and other broadcasters) has developed many live shows based on some of its big TV properties (eg, Top GearStrictly Come DancingDr Who), this new show, developed over the past few years, is a new departure for RTÉ."

She went on to say that the employment of mostly Irish cast and crew, and nurturing the development of the young cast into the stars of tomorrow was a "key aim" in developing the show.

"The attempts by some to pit Toy Show the Musical against other productions is at odds with the broad support we have received from the theatre world," added Forbes. "It is also at odds with the amount of airtime support RTÉ routinely makes available to live events of all kinds through its RTÉ Supporting the Arts scheme."

She went on to say RTÉ was "very proud" of the show and that it had not detracted from the organisation's World Cup coverage, developing documentaries like 'Quinn Country' or their political news coverage. "RTÉ has long had to do many things at once," she said, "that’s what we’re here to do."

UPDATE: RTE have released a statement saying that the show will resume tomorrow, Tuesday December 20th, with a sensory performance at 12.30pm - but that further shows will be cancelled later this week.

"While there is a significant degree of resilience in the cast, where roles can be covered by understudies, given illness persists among a cast of predominantly children, it is necessary to make further adjustments to the schedule this week," it read. "On Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd we will be reducing the number of shows from three performances a day to two, cancelling the 12.30 show on Wednesday and the 7.30pm show on Thursday

Ticketsolve, our ticketing partner, will today be contacting those affected regarding rescheduling and refund options. We will of course be offering full refunds. In addition, for those who missed the show due to the cancellations, we would like to a 25% discount on tickets to attend a show this week or next. We sincerely hope those affected by the cancellations can find a time to come and see the show. 

The Toy Show the Musical team is truly sorry for the real inconvenience these changes have caused. We have been monitoring and responding to ticket holders on social platforms and are very aware of how disappointed and upset families were that the shows were cancelled, particularly at such short notice. The team tried its very best to make the shows happen, but ran out of time and options and had to cancel. The adjustments we are making to the schedule this week are to minimise the risk of that happening again."