An­napo­lis ac­tors bring clas­sic ‘The Rail­way Chil­dren’ to King’s Theatre stage

Annapolis Valley Register - - EVENTS - AN­NAPO­LIS ROYAL

It’s all aboard for the An­napo­lis & District Drama Group’s spring pro­duc­tion of The Rail­way Chil­dren, com­ing to the stage at King’s Theatre in An­napo­lis Royal on April 7 to 9.

Edith Nes­bit’s clas­sic tale was penned in 1905 and fol­lows the lives and for­tunes of three chil­dren, Roberta (Bob­bie), Peter, and Phyl­lis Water­bury, whose com­fort­able mid­dle-class house­hold in the out­skirts of Ed­war­dian Lon­don is shaken when their fa­ther sud­denly and mys­te­ri­ously leaves one evening. Taken by their mother to live more fru­gally in a re­mote farm­house in the York­shire moors, they be­friend the folks in the vil­lage and at the lo­cal rail­way sta­tion.

The story will be very fa­mil­iar to those who have en­joyed Lionel Jef­fries’ iconic 1970 film ver­sion, which starred Jenny Agut­ter as Bob­bie and Bernard Crib­bins as Mr. Perks, the Rail­way Porter. The play’s di­rec­tor, Si­mon Bon­ning­ton, brought the idea to the drama group a cou­ple of years ago.

“I’ve seen pro­duc­tions of the story be­fore – both as open-air theatre, and in a lo­cal play­house in Eng­land,” he said. “There is a stage ver­sion cur­rently run­ning at Kings Cross sta­tion in Lon­don, in­cor­po­rat­ing a real live steam en­gine – which clearly wouldn’t work at King’s Theatre.”

That didn’t stop Bon­ning­ton. “So I went back to the orig­i­nal text, to Nes­bit’s novel, and came up with a brand-new stage adap­ta­tion, a script writ­ten specif­i­cally for the stage at King’s. The drama group loved it, and so here we are.”

Mix of Ages, Ex­pe­ri­ence

Rather than hav­ing three young chil­dren in the ti­tle-roles, the au­di­ence will find se­nior An­napo­lis West Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre stu­dents Abi­gail Bon­ning­ton (Bob­bie), Sam Cooper (Peter) and Alex Han­cock (Phyl­lis) play­ing their char­ac­ters as young adults, telling their child­hood story by way of stream­ing flash­backs and rec­ol­lec­tions, deftly ‘break­ing the fourth wall’ as they switch be­tween roles.

Their rapidly flow­ing nar­ra­tive is ably sup­ported by the rest of the cast, in­clud­ing such drama group reg­u­lars as Colleen Row­land (Mrs. Water­bury - their mother), and stal­warts Brian Dick­in­son (Mr. In­gle­wood, the mum­bling and bump­tious di­rec­tor of the Great North­ern and South­ern Rail­way), and Phil Milo (play­ing both a di­rec­tor of the rail­way and Mr. James, the vil­lage Black­smith).

The play brings sev­eral new faces to the lo­cal stage, amongst them is Miles Leahy, bet­ter known as en­ter­tainer ‘Milo the Clown,’ who gives a ster­ling per­for­mance as ‘The Old Gentle­man,’ to whom the chil­dren wave each morn­ing as he passes in the train.

In­no­va­tive Set

Bon­ning­ton’s new adap­ta­tion re­lies upon its in­no­va­tive and ver­sa­tile set to be able to whisk the au­di­ence along as the scenes change rapidly be­fore their eyes. To fur­ther ease these segues, a themed in­ci­den­tal mu­sic score has been com­posed by Dil­lon Tonkin, lo­cal mu­si­cian and back-stage wizard at the theatre.

In ad­di­tion, art­work sup­plied by renowned lo­cal artist Con­nie Lowe-parker graces the pro­duc­tion’s eye-catch­ing poster, and the Ma­sonic Lodge and the An­napo­lis Her­itage So­ci­ety have of­fered as­sis­tance with the loan of pe­riod cloth­ing and props.


The chil­dren, Phyl­lis, Bob­bie, and Peter Water­bury (Alex Han­cock, Abi­gail Bon­ning­ton, Sam Cooper) wave to the 9:15 train in di­rec­tor Si­mon Bon­ning­ton’s stage adap­ta­tion of Edith Nes­bit’s clas­sic novel The Rail­way Chil­dren. The An­napo­lis & District Drama Group’s spring pro­duc­tion will be on stage at King’s Theatre April 7 to 9.

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