IN Ross Township Winter 2021 - Page 32

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THE THEATRE THAT WAS MEANT TO BE

The Iron Horse Theatre Company offers new plays each month in addition to comedy and live music nights .
BY PAMELA PALONGUE

Sometimes things just come together in such a magical way , it ’ s as if they were just meant to be . The story of Iron Horse Theatre Company in Ambridge is a little like that .

While living in California , London Cain of the Moon Area School District participated in community theater in Sacramento , San Luis Obispo , and other small theaters . He was a great believer in community theater and its ability to bring people together in a meaningful way .
So when the Drama Club at Moon Area Middle School ended , Cain decided to start one off-campus for students to continue participating .
He had purchased a building at 348 Maplewood Avenue in Ambridge that was “ a complete train wreck !” But he knew the building would be useful for storing costumes and props , and with some renovations , could be a great place for the kids to rehearse plays .
Around this same time , Cain happened upon a book called “ Rust Belt Boy : Stories of an American Childhood ” by Paul Hertneky . The book details much of the unique history of Ambridge and was a heartfelt look at the author ’ s childhood growing up at a time when the city was in its heyday , and its eventual decline as the steel mills closed .
The book inspired Cain to think of his building in a new way — he had never considered that it could be used as a theater , but now it seemed the only thing to do . He set up a nonprofit organization for the theater , but no one really wanted to donate money to something they couldn ’ t see .
So without any carpentry experience , Cain began knocking out walls and clearing away debris . His enthusiasm for the project might have begun to wane at that point , but fate had other plans .
Jeremy Ernstoff and Charles Timbers in “ The Whipping Man .”
Carpenter Doug May constructing the stage .
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