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Off the Rails at Fort SteelePosted: June 26, 2012

The Wildhorse Theatre is in the final stages of bringing its Mainstage production, Off the Rails, to life. This high-energy musical is a comedic take on the fickle hand of fate—plus a bit of back-room politicking—which conspired against the people of historic Fort Steele in their attempt to bring the railway to the town.

Although not strictly factual in its presentation of dirty deeds and dastardly double-dealers, Off the Rails nevertheless presents a humorous history of the events that lead to Cranbrook becoming the centre of commerce in the Kootenays, and Fort Steele’s eventual future as a town living in the past. The Ladies Aid Society is preparing to welcome the honourable Mr. Van Horne and the distinct possibility of the train coming to Fort Steele, but Colonel Baker has his own plan to bring the train to Cranbrook. Can our town hero, Constable Barnes save the day and his town?

Off the Rails is directed by Truus Verkley, one of the talented alumni of past productions at Fort Steele. Verkley is working with other Fort Steele-seasoned actors, musicians and technicians to bring this fast-paced, hilarious, song-and-dance show to audiences beginning every Tuesday through Saturday from June 30 until September 1.

In addition to Off the Rails, Fort Steele Heritage Town is introducing a Canadian play that will run Thursday through Saturday nights every week during the summer. Babe Ruth Comes to Pickle River was written by playwright Nelles Van Loon. In 1932, Jane, a 30-something woman pursuing one dream while avoiding several other bad ones, accidentally arrives in Pickle River, a far-flung mining town in northern Ontario. There she meets Roy, a young entrepreneur who is launching a fledgling radio station just as the medium is beginning to take the country by storm. Lisa Aasebo and David Popoff play Jane and Roy respectively—along with five other characters each. Tanya Laing Gahr directs this charming and challenging play, which opens July 5.

Along with the two productions in the Wildhorse Theatre, Living History brings back beloved townsfolk from Fort Steele’s past back to the streets they frequented in 1898. This year’s interactive scenes include a debate between Colonel Baker and William Baillie, who are vying for a seat in B.C.’s legislature; Mrs. Williams’s run-in with the law over her house of ill repute; and, new this year, a wedding, reception, and town lawn games every Monday.

The cast of all three shows are comprised primarily of local actors, and represents a new approach to theatrical productions at Fort Steele. Lisa Aasebo, Artistic Director of The Wildhorse Theatre, believes that visitors to the historical site will experience new connections to the past any day of the week they visit, and recommends coming more than once through the season.

For more information on Fort Steele’s productions or other heritage programming, please visit www.fortsteele.ca .

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