Shining Time Station Live! predates the Thomas live theatre events by almost a decade. Here we'll present what we've been able to discover about this intriguing Shining Time Station spin-off that is rarely talked about amongst fans.
About Shining Time station: Live!
From what we know, Shining Time Station Live! toured the United States between June, 1993 up to early 1996. The one hour show was sponsored nationally by ERTL, famous for their line of die-cast metal Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends characters. Shining Time Station Live! was originally conceived and directed by New York Director/Choreographer Michael Davids. Troy Thomas was the Producer with Michael Daughtry as the company and stage manager. The overall cross-country tour was managed by Deborah Strafella.
Shining Time Station Live! performed mainly in shopping malls , schools and at special events. The troupe toured cross-country all year long, taking only a break from the busy schedule during the week of December 25th. Performances were limited to the weekends during the school year, but the actors were much busier during the months of July and August where they worked five and sometimes six days a week. Up to three performances a day were racked up with full capacity crowds attending, sometimes numbering up daily to 4,000 parents and children.
Here's what we've been able to piece together about the 1 hour stage show.
The show opens with the cast leading the audience in singing traditional sing-along tunes such as Down by the Station, followed by performers clog dancing to a rendition of Thomas will be Comin' 'Round the Mountain. After this number, a large-scale replica of Thomas measuring 17 feet long, 8 feet tall and wide is wheeled out onto the stage and introduced to the audience.
The cast members then invite children from the audience on stage to participate in a trivia game about the show (the audience is also encouraged to help by shouting out their answers as well!). Thomas whistles at the correct answers, and whooshes steam at the incorrect ones. After the trivia game, we're introduced to the main performance of the live show, which also includes additional musical and dance numbers to help tell the story.
Richard (Matthew Sears) is a boy who wants to become an train engineer when he grows up. However the lad does not want to wait until he's old enough to be trained how to operate a steam engine safely. The impatient Richard hops into Thomas' cab and tries to drive the engine. Chaos ensues when Richard realizes that he doesn't know what all of the controls are for and ends up derailing Thomas.
All is made right again with the rescue by Richard's friends, Casey (Bill Whitefield), Brian (Joseph Favalora), and Brenda (Tanesha Gary), who help put Thomas back on track. Richard learns his lessons that we must all learn how to be patient, and that people can accomplish almost anything when they work together.
After the show, the audience is invited to meet the cast members for autographs and to receive a Thomas pin as a memento. The big draw of course was to allow children to get a closer look at Thomas and to have their photograph taken with the famous blue tank engine. Other after-show activities included the showing of the latest Thomas the Tank Engines and Friends video on a large-screen TV (In 1993 they watched Daisy and Other Stories).
Two of the Shining Time Live! cast members (unnamed) are said to have made appearances in a few Shining Time Station episodes, but our research leaves us to believe that these were un-credited cameos or extras. It should be noted that none of the TV show's regular cast members toured with the production or were part of the show.
Schemer's Incredible Schemer Show
After the SHINING TIME STATION TV series ended, our lovable rogue toured the country in his own live show!
Of all the SHINING TIME STATION's regular cast members, Brian O'Connor carried on his Schemer persona making live appearances between seasons and well after the TV series ended. From as early as 1992 to as late as Dec. 30 1999, Brian toured the country with his own Schemer's Incredible Schemer Show.
Details are very difficult to find, but our research shows that Schemer would put on at least two shows a day in local theatres and campus halls. Admission to the show cost a modest $7.
As for the show's repertoire, one of Schemer's acts is accompanied by live music (we suspect that Bill Gulino a.k.a. Piano Boy accompanied Brian for some shows). Acts included Schemer's Songs, Schemer's Quiz Show, Schemer's Joke-a-Thon and more. Never out of character, Brian would keep Schemer's patrons entertained with his antics and audience participation. After the show, Schemer would have a meet and greet with the audience to sign autographs and take photos.
It's not known if Brian's road show always featured a large scale replica of Thomas the Tank Engine, but there's anecdotal evidence that on one occasion, #1 was present on occasion in the background of a photo of "Schemer" and "Piano Boy", Bill Gulino. Bill was also one of the barbershop quartet members in Queen for a Day.
Brian O'Connor shared a touching anecdote with John Engstrom. contributor to the Austin American Statesman in May, 1993. It happened in Seattle in October 1992 after one of his live shows which drew-in about 1,5000 young fans. Quoting from the article:
O'Connor can't forget the last kid in that long line in Seattle, a little American Indian girl.
"It seemed like she didn't want to talk," O'Connor recalled. "She just wanted to hug."
He picked her up and held her for maybe 10 minutes, he said. She nestled her head into his neck and he carried her to his next assignment in another part of the building.
"Her father said they had driven 2 1/2 hours to get there, and then she waited four hours to see me. Her whole day was going to be eight or nine hours.
"Finally, I said, `Well, I guess I've got to go now. It's been really great meeting you.' She just pulled her head up and gave me a kiss and went to her dad."
From this can we fans conclude that Schemer isn't the rogue we all make him out to be? Maybe so!
Were you part of, or saw a performance of the Shining Time Station Live! or Schemer's Incredible Schemer Show tour?
If so, we'd certainly love to hear your recollections of the show and would be grateful for and will gladly credit any additional insight, photographs, or other material that you may still have of the production and be able to share with us.
Please feel free to contact us directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
News Media Sources