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The Orphan Train Announces Riders

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – Port City Theatre’s upcoming production of The Orphan Train features the work of several newcomers to the Port City Stage.

The play by Aurand Harris tells the story of nine children who rode the orphan train to uncertain futures with new families during America’s largest migration of neglected children.

Unwilling orphans bound for an uncertain future in Port City Theatre’s upcoming production of The Orphan Train include actors (left to right) Stephen Mahan, Jonathan Mahan, Seamus Darrow, Madeline Riester, Courtney Gregory, Hannah Gray, Becky Gray, and Shaugness Darrow.Over a 75 year period, from 1854 to 1929, more than 200,000 children were taken from New York City streets and orphanages and shipped by train to homes across the country.

The stories are brought to life by children ranging in age from six to 21 and include newcomers Madeline Riester, David and Hannah Gray, Stephen Mahan, Courtney Gregory and Seamus Darrow.

Veteran actress Kassidy Thomas, also new to Port City Theatre, brings her unique acting style to the oldest orphan whose story is recreated.

Kassidy recently completed Butterflies Are Free at Oswego Players under the direction of Bobby Fontana. Marianne Natoli and Sharon Darrow, in supporting adult roles, round out the list of newcomers for this production.

Returning PCT veterans include Becky Gray, Shaughnessy Darrow, Zack Sizemore and Jonathan Mahan, all from Anne Frank And Me and Kelly Mahan, who is a veteran of PCT’s The Guys, Anne Frank And Me, as well as backstage crew of I Do! I Do!

Completing the list of returning actors are Vern Bishop from the first season’s In His Steps, as well as Bobby Fontana (In His Steps and Godspell) and Kristin Cook (John, His Story original cast and Godspell).

Both are currently touring in John His Story and both recently completed Butterfiles Are Free at Oswego Players with Fontana directing and Cook as the “biting and acerbic” Mother, according to reviews.

Port City Theatre debuts this work by playwright Aurand Harris, recognized to be the most produced playwright in youth theatre today.

Harris began writing children’s plays in the 1940s and The Orphan Train was his final work, written in 1996 just before his death at age 81.

With many popular adaptations such as Black Beauty, Pocahontas and The Magician’s Nephew, his large body of works also includes plays in which he explored different types such as vaudeville (The Tobey Show), melodrama (Rags To Riches), and what he called his death show, The Arkansas Bear, the story of a young girl coping with the loss of a family member.

His works also include original pieces such as Monkey Magic and Pinballs in addition to The Orphan Train.

Harris was the first children’s playwright to be invited to China to produce his Rags To Riches play for Chinese Youth Theatre.

The winner of many prestigious awards, his legacy lives on in the Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award.

The Orphan Train premieres in St. Mary’s Hopkins Hall at West Sixth and Cayuga streets May 30 at 8 p.m. and continues May 31, June 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. and June 1 and 8 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, students and children, with a family package at $30 for two adults and two children under 9.

For more information or reservations, call 598-8812.