Summer Theatre in the Round(House)
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Summer Theatre in the Round(House)

The future site of the Roundhouse Theatre, a 1,000 seat venue for this summer’s The Railway Children. Photo by Pfotoblog from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

At a morning press conference held today at the Steamwhistle Brewery Roundhouse, we learned that Toronto will be home to the first North American production of Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children, a site-specific version of the acclaimed stage adaptation of the beloved children’s novel. The starring role for the show—cast still to be announced—belongs to a sixty-six-ton period-appropriate locomotive (so, not the shiny engine currently on display in front of the brewery).
The producers, in partnership with the City of Toronto and the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre, will be building a twenty thousand square foot theatre in Roundhouse Park for the show, which has an initial run scheduled for May 3 to August 7 this summer.
It’s an ambitious undertaking for British co-producers York Theatre Royal and the Touring Consortium, and Toronto-based Marquis Entertainment. Certainly, they couldn’t have picked more prime real estate, just a few minutes from Union Station, and across the street from the CN Tower and the Metro Convention Centre’s South Building. The park is one of the few places in the downtown core where you could erect a modular tent to hold one thousand people; it also certainly helps that there are railroad tracks already laid down on site.
We think it’s a wonderful idea, and some welcome competition for Canadian Stage’s annual Dream in High Park. Unlike that popular summer outdoor Shakespeare staging, the ticket price for this family friendly event (which is already selling group bookings—individual ticket sales start April 4 through TicketKing) won’t be pay what you can; it will no doubt be considerably higher. Still, it sounds like a real boon to Toronto’s summer tourism industry.