A production of The Railway Children featuring a real steam locomotive is to be staged at Waterloo's disused international terminal.
The announcement was made on Thursday by producer Jenny King at Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre during a packed South Bank Forum meeting.
The redundant Eurostar platforms will be turned into a theatre with the audience seated on two sides of the steam engine. A similar production of the play – based on the book by E Nesbit – was staged at the National Railway Museum in York two years ago.
The Waterloo cast will include 15 children. As many as 60 local people are likely to be employed as ushers, box office staff and PAs during the five month run. There are also volunteering opportunities.
Centreline Productions is due on site next month with the steam engine arriving early in May. Rehearsals begin in June. The first preview night is on Sunday 4 July.
The booking office and ground level concourse will host exhibitions of work by Lambeth schools and other displays.
Profits from the show are going to the Railway Children charity founded ten years ago to change the lives of children living on stations and streets in India, East Africa and Britain.
2010 is the 40th anniversary of the classic Railway Children film starring Jenny Agutter as Bobbie.
The old Eurostar station is also due to host the annual fundraising ball of the ARK (Absolutely Return for Kids) charity on 13 May. ARK sponsors two SE1 schools – Globe Academy and Walworth Academy. At last year's event 900 people paid £10,000 each for tickets.
Meanwhile there is still uncertainty about the long-term future of the Eurostar station at Waterloo which has been disused since November 2007. The Office of Rail Regulation had previously instructed Network Rail to make the platforms available for use by domestic trains by the end of 2011, but recent press reports suggested that those plans could be delayed by the creation of a new supermarket in the space below the platforms.
"The Department for Transport is currently in discussion with the British Railways Board (Residuary) Limited, Network Rail and Stagecoach South West Trains to establish what would be the most cost-effective way to integrate Waterloo International terminal into the domestic station that maximises benefits for the short, medium and long term," transport minister Chris Mole said last week in response to parliamentary questions from Susan Kramer MP.
He added: "The Department for Transport is working closely with BRB (Residuary) Ltd to ensure that the timing of any commercial development of the space below the platforms at Waterloo International station does not adversely impact upon any plans to bring the platforms into use for domestic passengers."
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