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The Railway Children - The Little Theatre Review

All aboard for a charming adventure as the Leicester Drama Society stages a musical version of the beloved story The Railway Children.  

E.Nesbitt’s enchanting novel is arguably best known for its 1970 film adaptation and less known for the 2005 stage musical written by Richard John and Julian Woolford. It’s quite an achievement to bring this story to the stage but Leicester Drama Society thrive in the challenge to serve up first class entertainment that will undoubtedly make you feel good.
Once in a Lifetime Day. Photo by Tim Stokes
The story begins at Christmas time in London as we meet a family who are having to move away from London as the father of the house is imprisoned wrongly accused of spying. 

The mother and 3 children are uprooted to rural Yorkshire and to ‘The Three Chimneys’. Here they must adapt to life in the country and without their daddy and tight on money.
The story centres on those 3 children, Roberta (Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis, and their life in the country which revolves mostly around the local train station, Oakworth.

Along the way the children help support their poorly mother, help save a disaster when there’s a landslip and rescue and injured boy from a railway tunnel. The children are aided along the way by station master Mr Perks, played excellently by Tom Young (who also serves as a narrator), and the help of a charming old gentleman played by an equally charming David Lovell. 

Amanda Sadler is delightful as Mother, she has a great poise and class as the head of the household in the absence of Father, played by Michael Holland, who stands out in his other role as Mr. Szczepansky.

There’s some fun supporting work from a team of youngsters who play the Perks children. There’s two teams of children with Harvey Clarridge (Colin), Ciara Daisley (Elsie), Elodie Dakin (Ginger) and Elika Clarke (Patch) performing at the show I attended. They bring a cheeky nature to the performance which is fun to watch.

The staging is really cleverly achieved with the station layout feeling very familiar with a central railway line in which trains are represented through a variety of means including suitcases. Gem Greaves has done a superb job in the design and for the feel of the countryside, aided by video and lighting. Greaves captures the Edwardian feel with John Bale’s costume design excelling too. 

Impressive work is done by Leigh White who directs and as the one man band Musical Director playing the lovely soundtrack by John and Woolford. There’s some tremendous songs in the score including ‘One Voice’ which has a few round me dabbing tears from their cheeks and ‘A Once In A Lifetime Day’ which is an ear worm.

The Mother and The Railway Children. Photo by Mary Jayne Harding Scott

The undoubted stars of the show are the titular Railway Children. The endlessly sweet Phyllis played by Hollie Longley Wilford at the performance I attended (the role is shared with Ava Colford) and naive Peter played by Harvey Griffiths goes on a great character arch becoming likeable teenager. It’s Scarlett Hubbard who as Roberta shows talent that could grace the biggest of theatres, her vocals are sublime and her all round characterisation is gorgeous, including the endlessly touching final scene.

Leicester Drama Society once again have a hit on their hands and one that is perfect family viewing. The Railway Children is 2 hours of uplifting entertainment that will fill you with nostalgic warm feelings. A sweeping railway adventure well worth getting on board with.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Railway Children plays at The Little Theatre until Saturday 15th April. Tickets and further details of the programme at the theatre is available from

*Ticket was gifted in return for a review*

Tom Young as Mr Perks and Harvey Griffths as Peter. By Mary Jayne Harding Scott

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