A Train Leaves a Seed - a guest blog by Todd Kemmerling, author of "Last Stop Chapin"

chapin It was January of 2010 and my younger son, Jared, was participating in his first play – Cheaper  By the Dozen - with director Tiffany Dinsmore and the Chapin Theatre Company - CTC’s final production at their long-time venue on Columbia Avenue in downtown Chapin.  Jared was 11 at the time.  Most nights I would be the one to drive him to rehearsal, and typically I would sit near the back of the theatre and read. You might be thinking, “Yeah? So what?”  I know.  Bear with me.

Two things stand out from that time: First, the theatre was unheated, and sometimes the room felt like a winter’s day in New Jersey.  Second, a couple of times each night, a freight train would barge through Chapin, sounding its horn at each and every railroad crossing. As the theatre was located not a hundred yards from the nearest crossing, the rumble of the train – and its horn – would overwhelm all other sounds as it crossed Columbia Avenue.

On one of those nights, when I happened to be standing outside as a train came through, the whisper of a story idea wandered into my mind ... What if?

And so it was on that cold January night that the seed of a story took root in the recesses of my  brain; a seed that wouldn’t begin to grow until the summer of 2012 when I started sketching out the themes, storylines, and characters who would inhabit its world. Upon completion of the first “storyboard,” I quietly shared the premise and scene flowchart with experienced thespian Jim DeFelice. After receiving some quality feedback from Jim and others, I starting writing the story and four weeks later, a clean rough draft of Last Stop Chapin was born.

“So,” you might be thinking, “What is this story about? Will it relate to me?”  Well, the over-arching theme is at the same time simple and complex.  Should I reach for my dreams and risk failure, or should I follow a safer route that provides a more realistic chance for a stable, secure life.  For just about all of us, this is a dilemma that we have faced – or will face – in some form or fashion.

“Okay, but... what’s it about?” Alright -  here’s a synopsis of what you will see and hear on stage:

Since he was a small boy, Tripp Corbett has watched with wonder as the trains powered through his small, rural hometown, all the while dreaming about the amazing places to which they might be headed. Encouraged by his Uncle Mike, Tripp learned to use a battered old guitar and an uncanny ability for songwriting to vocalize those dreams. Now, within weeks of his high school graduation, Tripp’s talents have gained the attention of a major record company. But the promise of travel and a career in music hangs in the balance as Tripp is forced to decide between his dreams and the realities of life – his love for his girlfriend, the demands of a father who lives by a strict code of personal responsibility, and a web of family secrets that threatens to tear the Corbett family apart.


Better?  Good. So, here we are, under two weeks away from the Sept. 5, 2014 world premiere of Last Stop Chapin at the Harbison Theatre on the Midlands Technical College campus in Irmo, SC.  And all I can tell you is that the cast is strong, and, under the directorial leadership of the talented and experienced Jocelyn Sanders, the first edition of the show is coming together nicely. So, for more information and to reserve your tickets,  go to ChapinTheatre.org.

I look forward to seeing you there!

n the accompanying photo are the Corbett Family: Tyler Kemmerling as Tripp Corbett, Eliza Schneider as Emma Corbett, Shelby Beasley as Rose Pollard Corbett, Cathy Carter Scott as Abby Corbett, Merritt Vann as Harlan Corbett, George Dinsmore as Mike Corbett and Jim DeFelice as Walt Harris.


Last Stop Chapin, an original play by Todd Kemmerling, will open Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, at the Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College, 7300 College St., Irmo, SC 29063.

Staged by Chapin Theatre Company and directed by Jocelyn Sanders, this will be the show's debut production after a staged reading last year at Trustus Theatre. Show dates are: Sept. 5-6, 11-14, and 18-20, 2014. All performances are at 8 pm, with the exception of the Sept. 14 performance, which is a 3 pm matinee. Visit www.chapintheatre.org for tickets and more information, and visit the


Harlan Corbett -- Merritt Vann Abby Corbett -- Cathy Carter Scott Tripp Corbett -- Tyler Kemmerling Rose Pollard -- Shelby Beasley Mike Corbett -- George Dinsmore Walt Harris -- Jim DeFelice Emma Corbett -- Eliza Schneider Cody Bass -- Logan Baldwin Jed Lewis -- Kyle Myers Daryl Matson -- Jared Kemmerling

Production Staff:

Jocelyn Sanders -- Director Jim DeFelice -- Producer Kara Pound -- Stage Manager Tiffany Dinsmore -- Costumer

Show Dates: Sept. 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 (8 pm) Sept. 14 (3 pm) Sept. 18, 19, 20 (8 pm)