‘The Orphan Train’ stops at the Towngate Theater | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo provided Parcel Players from the Oglebay Institute will bring “The Orphan Train” to the Towngate Theater from August 4-7. Back row, left to right, are Patricia Jeffers, Everett Poole, Dailey Ward, Joel Nau and Grace Mull. Seated in the middle row, from left, are Lily Ulrich, Patrick Ingold, Josie Figaretti, Drew Tarrant and Rylin Russell. Kneeling in front, left to right, Clare Seibert and Shelby Gibson. McKenna Snyder is not pictured.

WHEELING — The Oglebay Institute’s Parcel Players wrap up their summer season with Aurand Harris’ family play “The Orphan Train.” The production is staged from August 4 to 7 at the Towngate Theatre.

Harris’ piece highlights the roots of the modern foster care system and a period in American history known as The Orphan Train Movement.

It examines the efforts of Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the Children’s Aid Society, to rescue abandoned, abused, and orphaned children from the streets and slums of New York City.

Brace’s solution was to send them by rail from the urban northeast to farm families in the west and midwest. It is estimated that between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,000 children were displaced.

“The Orphan Train” tells their stories. Set in 1914, the play follows the adventures of nine orphans aboard the same train who, one by one, share their stories, their fears and their dreams. The lonely whistle groans as the train sways between encounters of anxiety, laughter, melancholy, rejection and acceptance.

Oglebay Institute Director of Performing Arts Tim Thompson said the play not only tells a dramatic and entertaining story for audiences, but also “learns a lot about this little-known period of American history and allows young actors to shine in their roles.”

Harris is one of the most produced playwrights for young audiences and “The Orphan Train” is one of his most revered plays.

Directed by Dave Henderson, “The Orphan Train” cast includes Patrick Ingold, Everett Poole, Drew Tarrant, Joel Nau, Dailey Ward, Grace Mull, Shelby Gibson, Patricia Jeffers, Rylin Russell, Josie Figaretti, Lily Ulrich, Clare Seibert and McKenna Snyder.

Launched more than 50 years ago, the Oglebay Institute’s Parcel Players summer theater program offers young people interested in theater a chance to act, direct, design sets, work with costumes, lights and more while providing quality entertainment to the public. By nurturing young talent, Parcel Players helps secure the future of community theater in the Ohio Valley.

“The Orphan Train” will be staged at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday August 4, 5 and 6. A matinee at 3 p.m. will be held on Sunday, August 7.

Tickets for the show are only $10. Shop online at www.oionline.com, by calling 304-242-7700 or at the door, if available.

Part of the non-profit Oglebay Institute, Towngate Theater is located across from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Wheeling’s Central Market Historic District at 2118 Market St. Towngate is listed on the National Register of Places historical.

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