Paul Hawkyard will have the onerous duty of making sure the last train leaves King’s Cross Theatre on time, when he takes over as Mr Perks in the Olivier Award-winning production of Mike Kenny’s stage adaptation of E. Nesbit’s novel The Railway Children from 23 November 2016 until 8 January 2017, when this critically and publically acclaimed show must come to an end. This follows more than two glorious years of performances at King’s Cross Theatre, where it opened on 14 January 2015, following previews from 16 December 2014.
Paul Hawkyard is best known for the popular Cbeebies programme Old Jack’s Boat, in which he plays the character Ernie Starboard and co-stars with Bernard Cribbins, the original Mr Perks.
Also in the cast of The Railway Children are Caroline Harker as Mother, Felicity Houlbrooke as Bobbie, Jack Hardwick as Peter, Louise Calf as Phyllis, Lindsay Allen as Mrs Perks, Peter Gardiner as Doctor/Butler, Connie Hyde as Mrs Viney, Shaun McCourt as Jim, Blair Plant as Father/Schepansky and Moray Treadwell as the Old Gentleman, with Adam Collier, Helen Brampton, Alan Drake and Julie Gilby. The children’s ensemble is made up of four teams of ten children aged between 8 and 16.
A purpose built 1,000-seat theatre, complete with a railway track and platforms, and with a state of the art air conditioning and heating system, was specially created for this production on King’s Boulevard, behind King’s Cross Station, a site which has been loaned to the production for the duration of the run by Google. The York Theatre Royal production, which is in association with the National Railway Museum, features a live steam locomotive and a vintage carriage, originally built in 1896.
The Railway Children tells the story of Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis, three children whose lives change dramatically when their father is mysteriously taken away. They move from London to a cottage in rural Yorkshire with their mother, where they befriend the local railway porter, Perks, and embark on a magical journey of discovery, friendship and adventure. But the mystery remains – where is Father, and is he ever coming back?