One hundred and thirty years ago, American youth moved west for a new life, on May 4 Churchill’s youth theater brings us the story.
When the orphan train movement began, it was estimated that 10,000 to 30,000 outcast children were living on the streets of New York City alone. Between 1854 and 1929, an estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were transported throughout the United States to find new homes. “Orphan Train the Musical” is a historical fiction telling the story of these children.
“Orphan Train” features 26 local 3rd to 6th-grade children. While most of the characters are fictional, several of the cast portray actual historical figures. Fourth-grader Adelynn Munoz portrays Jean Sexton who, in 1914, rode the Orphan Train along with her 5 brothers and sisters when she was just 3 years old. She left Brooklyn, New York, and found a new home with a childless couple in Southwest Missouri. Irma Craig – portrayed by 5th grader Annabelle Kuite – was abandoned by her parents in 1898 and rode the Orphan Train several years later, finding a new home in Schubert, Missouri. Lee Nailling (Keaton Lacow, 3rd grade) was separated from his 2 brothers and went through several homes before finding a permanent family in Atlanta, Texas.
The Performing Arts of Churchill County, or PACC, the non-profit organization behind “Orphan Train,” was formed in 2022 to produce and promote the performing arts in the Churchill County area. “Orphan Train” is the first production presented by PACC and has a wealth of experience behind it. Director Tim Wuth has directed 12 children’s musicals during his 27-year career in education with the Pershing County School District. The production’s creative team has decades of combined experience in musical theater performance and education and includes Summer Stanton, Noreen Swenson, Suzette Benecke, David Ernst, and Ani Acosta.
According to PACC Board President David Ernst, they have already begun planning for the 2023-2024 musical season and have several other initiatives in the works as well. Community members who would like more information about PACC can visit their website at paccnv.org where they may view information about upcoming productions and join their email list.
PACC is always seeking volunteers with experience in any area of the performing arts to help with future programming. Community members who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to complete the volunteer form on the PACC website.
You can view “Orphan Train” on May 4, 5, and 6 at the CCHS theater at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at paccnv.org.