Orphan Train Provides An Entertaining Ride

Provided by John DeRousie, contributing writer

OSWEGO, NY – A pickpocket, an entertainer, and the ‘toughest kid on the block’ are just some of the children you’ll find riding The Orphan Train.

The latest production from Oswego County’s newest theatrical group, Port City Theatre, The Orphan Train, written by well-known children’s playwright Aurand Harris, tells the poignant stories of nine children who were among the thousands of unwanted orphans taken from the streets and back alleys of New York City and shipped by train to farming communities in the Midwest to start new lives with new families.

Frank (Madeline Riester, right) tells his story to Robert Fontana and Kelly Mahan portraying a farmer and his wife offering a home to the right orphan in Port City Theatre’s production of The Orphan Train. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior, students and children under nine, and a family package for two adults and two children under nine for $30.The cast, consisting of 10 children, ages 6 to 17 and 6 adults, does a marvelous job of conveying a wide range of emotions as they re-enact the actual experiences of nine children who rode the Orphan Train.

From the opening scene, when ‘newsboy’ David Gray hawks newspapers and tells of the beginning of the Orphan Train, through the final scene when Little Lucy clings to her friend, Annie, with sad eyes as they have gone unwanted at every stop, the Orphan Train convincingly transports you back in time.

The actors, young and old alike, draw you into their scenes and as you share the children’s experiences.

You empathize with their hard times and you rejoice with them in their good times.

The stories of the orphans’ placements are not always happy, but they are entertaining and delivered in a way that captures the audience’s attention and allows them to create an emotional bond with the children.

The Orphan Train is further proof of the talent pool that exists here in our community.

The Port City Theatre is fortunate enough to draw from this pool once again and put together an ensemble cast of veteran actors and newcomers that perform flawlessly and provide theatergoers with a thoroughly entertaining evening.

For an enlightening, entertaining and emotional trip to a fascinating time in our country’s history, hop on The Orphan Train, you’re sure to enjoy the ride.

The Orphan Train continues with performances June 6, 7, and 8, on stage in Hopkins Hall in St. Mary’s Church in Oswego.

For ticket information and show times, contact Port City Theatre at 598-8812 or visit www.portcitytheatre.org