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The actors playing The Railway Children in York’s smash hit summer production have been announced.
Playing Bobby, Peter and Phyllis will be Rozzi Nicholson Lailey, Izaak Cainer and Beth Lilly. Andrina Carroll will be playing their mother, having played the role when the show premiered in 2008 and was reprised in 2009 after sell-out success. Other actors returning to the much-loved show include Rob Angell playing the famous father, Jacqueline Naylor as Mrs Viney who looks after the family when they move to Yorkshire, and Elianne Bryne as Mrs Perks. As has already been announced, they will be joined by panto favourites Martin Barrass as Mr Perks and Berwick Kaler in the cameo role of the Old Gentleman.
Izaak Cainer is originally from York. He trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.His theatre credits include Pirates on Parade (Theatre Royal Brighton), Frank Sent Me (Theatre 503 and Edinburgh Fringe) , 24 Hour plays (The Old Vic), The Upstanding Member (The Old Red Lion) and On The Shore of the Wide World, at York Theatre Royal. He said of being cast:
I’m delighted to be returning to York and working with my hometown theatre. I grew up watching plays at York Theatre Royal and used to go to the panto every year with Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass, so it’ll be great fun and a little surreal to be sharing a stage with them. I’m looking forward to spending the summer with old friends and family and I have lots of little nephews who can’t wait to see it, though I suspect they may be more excited about the steam train than watching me perform.
Rozzi will be playing Bobby, who launches the show by reminiscing about how her and her siblings became The Railway Children. Currently studying an MA in Acting at Guildhall School of Music and Drama having completed a degree at Cambridge University, Rozzi toured the USA as Isabella in a Cambridge university production of Measure for measure in 2013.
Playing Phillis, the youngest of the three children, is Beth Lilly. Most recently Beth has been on TV Screens as Edna in the ITV series Grantchester. She trained at Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts and her theatre credits include The Ladybird and Aunt Spiker in James and the Giant Peach for Simply Theatre, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Cambridge Theatre Festival, and Silvia in Two Gentleman of Verona, also for the Cambridge Theatre Festival.
Reprising her role as Mrs Perks alongside Martin Barrass will be Elianne Bryne. Elianne trained at Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre. Since last playing the role in 2009 Elianne has had two railway children of her own
They are very excited about seeing the show
Said Elianne. Other theatre credits include Through The Leaves of a Green Tree for Glossolalia Theatre Company, Danny Champion of the World at Bolton Octogan and Last Night for Real Life Theatre. TV and film credits include BBC’s Doctors, Hollyoaks, Ideal, North and South and four series’ of Where the Heart Is.
The Railway Children tells the story of how the comfortable lives of three Edwardian children, Bobby, Peter and Phyllis are shattered when their father is arrested on suspicion of betraying state secrets. The children and their mother move from London to a modest cottage near a railway in the Yorkshire countryside. New friendships, adventures and terrifying dangers await. But the mystery remains – where is father, and is he ever coming back?
Rob Angell will be playing the father as well as the doctor and railway man, returning to the production having played the same characters in 2008 and 2009. Audiences will also recognise Rob from his many roles in Yorkshire based Bad Apple Theatre Company’s work, most recently playing Isaac in Lights Out Landgirls.
Jacqueline Naylor recently worked for York Theatre Royal playing Mrs Badger in the 2014 production of the Wind in the Willows.
It will be the second time Barrass has played Mr Perks, originally donning Mr Perks’ cap back in 2009 when the production was brought back by popular demand after selling out and winning a Laurence Olivier Award the previous year.
For the first time, Berwick Kaler, better known as the UK’s Longest Serving Panto Dame and much loved by residents of York and beyond will be joining the production that York Theatre Royal has become famous for. The Old Gentleman is a cameo, but much loved, role. Berwick, whose early career included a role in the BBC smash hit Spender, alongside Jimmy Nail, as Detective Sergeant Dan Boyd, works with The Railway Children Director Damian Cruden each year co-directing the panto and said
The reason I have taken on this classic cameo role is to annoy Damian Cruden who wanted a professional actor to play the part. Even before rehearsals begin I have a shock for Cruden – I’ve already learnt my LINE!
The production’s popularity keeps soaring and Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation of the famous novel also opened in Kings Cross, London at the end of last year, where it has recently received critical acclaim being described as “oozing charm” by The Stage and receiving countless four and five star reviews. It will return to its original home in July 2014 in the purpose built 1,000-seat Signal Box Theatre, complete with a railway track and platforms for the live 60-tonne steam locomotive from the original classic film.
Paul Kirkman, Director of the National Railway Museum said:
The Pannier Tank which featured in the Lionel Jeffries film was recently restored at our Shildon museum so it will be looking its best for this welcome home performance for The Railway Children, which originated right here at the National Railway Museum in York. This year will be bigger and better than ever as although it’s the third run of this internationally-acclaimed show, it’s the first time in a purpose-built theatre in our South Yard and the first time the Theatre has been resident with us. This adds a whole new layer to what we can offer our visitors this summer and really raises the bar for museums and the arts working collaboratively together.
Over 24,000 people saw the show in 2008 and demand for tickets was so high that the last three weeks of the show was completely sold out - meaning hundreds of people had to be turned away. This resulted in the local press receiving several letters calling for the production to be re-staged, and their calls were answered the following year when York Theatre Royal and the National Railway Museum re-staged the show. It has since toured to Toronto, Canada and travelled to London Waterloo and Kings Cross.
Damian Cruden, Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal said
Now casting is complete I am looking forward to getting started on rehearsals. The success of The Railway Children has been phenomenal and in such a different year for York Theatre Royal it is brilliant to be bringing the production back to its original home.
The Railway Children opens at its original home at the National Railway Museum in York from 31 July 2015 until 5 Septemeber. The production, directed once again by York Theatre Royal’s Artistic Director Damian Cruden, will be part of the theatre’s residency at the museum during its £4.1 million re-development. The theatre’s Chief Executive, Liz Wilson commented:
Part of The Railway Children’s popularity is its ability to appeal to a wide audience, as previous sell–out runs in York, Waterloo and Toronto have proved. York Theatre Royal and the National Railway Museum are delighted to be bringing the production back.
Tickets are priced between £10 and £32.50 and can be bought by calling the Box Office on 01904 623568, securely online at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or in person at York Theatre Royal’s new Box Office in De Grey Rooms on St Leonard’s Place.