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Railway history comes to life onstage with Stone Fence Theatre

Railway history comes to life onstage with Stone Fence Theatre

Stone Fence Theatre's new original musical Here Comes the Train! The Ottawa Valley Railway Story, by Ish Theilheimer, goes behind the scenes to look at the lives of railway people in the Steam Era, the impact railways had on their communities and the impact of their loss. The show is based on the first-hand experiences of some of the last of the Ottawa Valley railway workers from that era.

"It's a good thing we started talking to people about this subject a couple of years ago because there aren't many left," says Theilheimer. "The railways did very little hiring in the 1950s, so most people with steam experience are in their 80s. The story is based on their experiences and told, as much as possible, in their words."

Here Comes the Train! includes 15 new songs, many in bluegrass style. "It just seemed to fit the subject," says Theilheimer and features background projections of railway history photos and videos compiled by Graeme Roy, who grew up in a railway station in which his father was station agent, and met Theilheimer at the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smith Falls.

The show's cast features a core group of skilled, veteran performers who have been in previous Stone Fence Theatre productions. Chantal Elie-Sernoskie returns as director, choreographer, and actor. Others in the cast include Peter Brown (keys), Tim Faught (banjo), Peter Frolander (bass), Phil Hoffman, Ambrose Mullin, Fran Pinkerton, Lesley Sneddon, Colin Wylie (guitar), and Theilheimer (mandolin, fiddle).

Stone Fence Theatre has been telling the Ottawa Valley's stories and putting some of the Valley's best talent onstage to do it since 2003. The company takes its name from the miles of stone fences that crisscross Renfrew County - a testament to the years of backbreaking work done by the local settlers who cleared the land.  Stone Fence Theatre has performed in many locations throughout the Ottawa Valley and continues that tradition this year. Another popular tradition is “Supper Theatre”, roast-beef served Ottawa-Valley style with fresh baked goodies. While folks enjoy there supper they are treated to pre-show entertainment by a range of local musicians.

Performances begin with an Early Bird show, Monday, July 13 in Eganville. This is followed by supper shows in Eganville on Wednesdays: July 15, July 22, July 29, and Aug 12. There will be one supper show in Barry’s Bay, Wednesday, August 5.

In Fall, there will be two supper shows in Eganville on Saturdays: September 26, and Oct. 3. The troupe then goes to Killaloe for a supper show and matinee, October 16 and 17. Next stop is Renfrew for a Saturday supper show and Sunday dinner matinee, October 24 and Nov. 1, followed by a matinee and evening show in Smiths Falls November 7.

For information and tickets: www.stonefence.ca, 613-628-6600 or toll-free 1-866-310-1004.