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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Railway Children

The Railway Children has been playing in Toronto since May, and will be here through until October. The production is of the classic British novel adapted by Mike Kenny. They did an amazing job at keeping the feel of a period piece without it being verbose and drawn out. If you ever go back and read some of the classics you realize how much literature has changed since the turn of the century. It's no easy job holding the attention of today's youth.

Whenever we go to something like this as a family, I am mindful that my 10 year bores easily and there's nothing like a classic to take her down. She was riveted.

Grown up versions of the "railway children" narrate the story and go back and forth from past to present. The cast was excellent. For me both Harry Judge, who played Peter and Kate Besworth, who played Phyllis were real stand outs. They had that ease with the audience that made them feel totally familiar within seconds of getting on stage.

The theatre is located adjacent to Roundhouse Park at the foot of the CN Tower. The location is amazing. Before you head into the "Bubble" you have the opportunity to walk around the grounds and there's a tiny train you can take a quick tour on too. The atmosphere around the theatre really adds to the whole experience. The state of the art theatre sets 1,000 people, so it's intimate and it doesn't look like there's a bad seat in the house. Too bad the damn seats are unbearably uncomfortable. Not only are they the tiniest things I've ever sat in, but there was absolutely NO leg room. I'm tall but I'm not that tall! Honestly if you are over about 5'6" sit in the front row. All the chatter before the production started was about how uncomfortable the seats were.

The staging was amazing! The audience sits on either side of the stage which is on a line of track. Platforms are pushed on and off the track to facilitate scene changes. The train makes several exciting appearances throughout the performance and the scene in the tunnel is fantastic.

An all-Canadian cast was promised and to the best of my knowledge that is true. A neighbour of ours attended the open call in the spring and is a member of the childrens chorus, how cool is that?! It's always so fun to watch someone you are familiar with on stage. Way to go Abbey!

The performance we attended had a little bit of extra drama. In the paperchase scene one of the younger actors fell just out of view of the audience. They had to stop the production for a few moments while they dealt with the actor. We were assured that they were fine and the production continued on. There were a couple of funny moments after that when the script seemed to mirror the incident.

If you get a chance, it's a great way for the kids to see a beautiful classic story. The message of how important it is too have faith that things will turn out and how important it is help others is so nice to hear in this day and age. Just don't forget to get seats in the front row!

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