by Anne Marie Maher
Theatre Arts for Kids presents “Orphan Train”, a musical based on the true story of the Orphan Train Movement featuring traditional American folk music from this historical time period. Original music by TAFK students Alexis Crist and Helena Muller is also featured.
Orphan Train is a Theatre Arts for Kids (TAFK) original work written by Artistic Director, Leah Kolar, along with TAFK students Helena Muller and Alexis Crist. Kolar has always been interested in the stories of the orphan trains, but it was a special connection that compelled her to create the musical. She said, “When I learned that my great grandmother and great aunt (twins) rode the orphan train, my interest in writing this story and creating the musical became even more important to me.”
Set in 1897, “Orphan Train” tells the story of two sisters, Gladys and Hazel, riding the orphan trains that journeyed to rural areas of the Midwest in an effort to lighten the load of orphanages in crowded Eastern cities. They refused to be separated and made a pact to remain together through their travels.
Muller and Crist enjoyed the experience of co-directing with Kolar, and also had the opportunity to write music for the show. The two teamed up to utilize strengths they developed in their time as students at TAFK. Muller wrote the lyrics while Crist created the music and accompaniment. Crist noted that she enjoyed the experience and was also grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with TAFK friends, “I have always loved writing music and it was a really cool opportunity to write for the show…It was a great experience to work with Leah and Helena to make this show possible. We have a great group of assistants to help during the show and a great cast to work with.”
“Orphan Train” is a Rising Stars show for students from three to eight-years-old. In the Rising Stars Program, younger students have the opportunity to develop their theatrical skills through lots of stage time and featured moments. Fifteen TAFK students, eight to fifteen-years-old, work as assistants to mentor the younger students and develop their leadership skills.
Theatre Arts for Kids gives a special thank you to the “Orphan Train” show sponsor, Security First Bank. The musical will be presented to the general public on Saturday, November 14 at 2:00 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church (4325 Sumner Street). Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting TAFK.org.