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The Railway Children, Grace Bonas, Jordan Perrett, and Jake Perrett - Date unknown Photographer unknown.
18 May 2017
Full Steam Ahead for
The Railway Children

It's full steam ahead for a landmark new production of "The Railway Children".
 
Staged at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway next week, it will signal a first for Welsh theatre goers as it will be the very first time in Wales a real steam locomotive has been used in a stage adaptation of E. Nesbit's classic book, which was also a much-loved movie, starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins.
 
In an ambitious move Stardreams Theatre Company, who are based in Pontypridd, have joined forces with the heritage railway line to not only recreate the story, but also the golden age of steam.
 
Stardreams' director Robert Edmunds said his grand idea of using an actual locomotive came about when he was looking for suitable theatrical spaces to create the production.
 
"We've been rehearsing since March last year and in between rehearsal weeks I've been looking for a theatre space to stage the show," he said.
 
"The more I thought about it, the more I thought how can we recreate the magic of a steam train on stage, but obviously it was hard to make it look realistic.
 
"I have two amazing effects guys who do sound and lighting for our shows, who work at places like The New Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. They're from Ebbw Vale and they said have you thought about contacting the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway. I sent them a message on Facebook not expecting an immediate reply, but they got back to me and responded with what a fantastic idea they thought it would be and they would put it to the board of the railway. Within a week we had a decision. They said by all means go ahead, it would be great for us to have a theatrical production staged here."
 
Although a real steam train currently features in a London production of the show, Robert said he was excited that it will be the first time Welsh audiences have seen a real life steam train used here.
 
He added that a purpose built stage would be erected between platforms at the railway site to use every bit of available space, and that as part of the ticket price audiences will also receive a ride on the train.
 
"We want to maximise our use of the train during the show," he said.
 
"People attending the show will take a two-mile train ride to the show's location. They will then be taken by train back to the point at which they boarded. We hope it will be a magical experience for children and adults alike."
 
Robert added that now the show is only just over a week away he can't wait to get going.
 
"We are incredibly excited about being able to stage this well-known and well-loved story," he said.
 
"All of the cast have worked incredibly hard over the past 12 months. It's been an amazing journey with some very talented people indeed. The people of Blaenavon have welcomed us with open arms and all of the volunteers at the Railway have been truly wonderful. They're just as excited as we are. Performing in the outdoors hasn't been without its problems. I guess that's what you get doing theatre at a World Heritage Site. It has it's own micro-climate. One minute there's beautiful sunshine and the next, it's pouring with rain!"
 
The Railway Children will be staged at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway on 27, 28, 29 and 31 May 2017.
 
Tickets cost £12 with children and concessions £10 from the box office on 01443 439466 or or book online at www.starDreams.co.uk
 
All tickets include a return journey on the train.
 
David Owens.

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