Mouse River Players Community Theatre

Behind The Beam

March 2024

Paula Simonson and I directed “Orphan Train” by Aurand Harris twice.  The first time was in 2007 with a reprise for the Great Northern convention in July.  The second time was in 2018.  This was Abby Speer’s first show with MRP;  she played Mary who was orphaned in New York City then road the rails to become a hired companion for an older lady who locked her in the cellar because she didn’t know how to do the tasks demanded of her.  

This was one of the eight vignettes highlighted in a historically correct story.  The orphan trains ran from New York City to the plains from 1854 through 1929  as  NYC was overrun with orphan children due to immigration of the time.  

Paula stated at the time, “It’s a very powerful story.  The plight of unwanted children just touches everyone.  As a participant, it’s just so powerful to be part of.”  

The 2018 show included 42 actors, 10 stage hands, and one costumer designer.  The youth actors included ages from 7 to17.  Three of the youth actors from 2007  returned to take adult roles in the show; several adults from the first show also returned for the second.  

The Railroad Museum  participated by allowing us to use many props for the show in addition to being open before each show.  

Imagine stops on a railroad route advertised by flyers and posters telling where orphans could be adopted or signed up as an indentured servant.

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