Wind and rain force Dereham production of The Railway Children to quit station

The show will go on in a different setting this evening after bad weather caused havoc with an open-air production in Norfolk of The Railway Children.

The musical version of the much-loved E Nesbit story has been running at the Dereham station of the Mid Norfolk Railway since Saturday.

The cast of experienced actors and dozens of schoolchildren, drawn from an area stretching from Norwich to Swaffham, has braved the cold and wet all week to perform on one of the platforms at the Dereham-Wymondham preservation line terminus.

But today, blustery winds blew down one of the cast's changing tents, and then the refreshment marquee, forcing the production to move this evening's 7pm performance to the Dereham Day Services hall, on the Rash's Green industrial estate.

Director Tim Cara said the decision was taken to move the show for one night only for safety reasons because of the bad conditions, and he thanked the day services team for offering his Open Cast Community Theatre company and Singa-Me-Jig Performing Arts Academy space so the performance did not have to be cancelled.

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He added: 'Just when we thought the weather couldn't get any worse, this happens.'

Mr Cara said the children had coped 'fantastically well' with the conditions all week even though they were performing outdoors in their period costumes while their audiences were wrapped up in jumpers and waterproofs.

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'It is to their huge credit,' he added. 'Nothing has daunted them, and they have been so keen to do it in such an authentic setting.

'But we have had nothing to compare with rehearsals on the platform, when it was a case of T-shirts and sunshine.'

For the first half last night, the cast had to adapt quickly to performing in the round under the shelter of a platform canopy after heavy rain lashed the unprotected platform on which they were due to play out the story.

Mr Cara said the company had managed to salvage their props from the wind and rain. He hoped The Railway Children, one of the highlights of Dereham's continuing Community Festival programme, could return to the station for the 3.45pm and 7pm performances tomorrow and the final, 3.45pm performance on Sunday.

The sat-nav reference for the Dereham Day Services hall is NR19 1JG. Tickets for the final performances are available at Dereham station or on 01362 851723.

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