railway-children

Original British production of The Railway Children which makes its North American premiere in Toronto May 3. ((Simon Annand/Mirvish))

A musical based on The Railway Children will make its North American debut this spring in a brand new theatre to be erected in downtown Toronto.

Based on Edith Nesbit's classic story, the musical is about three children who fall in love with the railroad that runs near their home. The Toronto production is a collaboration between The Touring Consortium International, Marquis Entertainment and Mirvish Productions.

To showcase the new production, Mirvish announced plans on Wednesday to erect a temporary, 1,000-seat venue in Roundhouse Park — opposite Rogers Centre and the CN Tower in downtown Toronto.

The theatre will be constructed especially for The Railway Children, which debuts May 3.

roundhouse

Model of the new theatre to stand next to Toronto's Roundhouse Park opposite the Rogers Centre. ((Mirvish Productions))

The location is especially resonant because the park features preserved rail lines and the stage production will showcase a live period steam train.

In addition to displaying a variety of historic trains, Roundhouse Park is home to the Toronto Railway Historical Association.

Nesbit wrote 60 works of fiction for children, with The Railway Children being a favourite for several generations of young readers. The story first appeared as a serial in London Magazine in 1905. It was published in book form in 1906.

The children in the story — Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis — are forced to move after their father is unjustly imprisoned. Lonely in their poor cottage in rural Yorkshire, they befriend the local railway porter and begin to study the workings of the railway.

The Railway Children was first adapted for stage in 2008, with York Theatre Royal presenting the show at the U.K.'s National Railway Museum in York. It was written by Mike Kenny and directed by Damian Cruden, who will also helm the Toronto production.

The musical was remounted at London's Waterloo station in 2010, with a Guardian critic hailing it as a story that "never for a moment runs out of steam."

A new all-Canadian cast will star in the show, Mirvish said in a statement.