Liggett students to perform “Orphan Train” this week
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By Bianca Pugliesi ’19 | Copy Editor
A tale of orphan children and colliding worlds plays itself out in The University of Liggett School’s production of “Orphan Train” by Dennis North.
The play takes place in late 1920’s, where about a million orphans roamed the streets of New York City. The lucky ones were sent on orphan trains out west. Nettie MacCleary and her husband lose their baby, but Nettie holds out hope that he will soon return home. A boy with no past is added last-minute to the final orphan train leaving New York, traveling to Kansas.
Director Dr. Phillip Moss says that the audience can expect a journey.
“It is going to be a trip through a lot of emotions– there’s a lot of stuff going on both historically, you know when you look at the orphan train. These kids are ripped out of the streets of New York and taken through the countryside to be adopted. There’s also a heartfelt story of a couple that’s struggling with the loss of their child. The good news is there’s a good ending- a happy ending,” Moss said.
The Players Board of Operations, who selected “Orphan Train” as Liggett’s fall play, were looking for a play that was dramatic, but most importantly had strong roles for women, not just supporting ones.
Grace Andreasen plays Nettie, the lead female.
“I really enjoy playing her because she’s a challenge but also she’s really complex and she has so many different levels,” Andreasen said. “A lot of times in theatre the female characters aren’t that great. They’re either really stupid or really sexy and she’s smart; she has this vision and she has this incredible sense of fate and spirituality that’s really beautiful and something that I think a lot of people today don’t have.”
Skye Vreeken plays Mrs. Leech, the woman who runs the train.
“She’s one of the antagonists in the show and I do enjoy playing her because she’s kind of crazy–not like in an insane kind of way but she’s very intense and she’s a very pragmatic woman,” Vreeken said. “But she is absolutely horrible. She’s horrible to these poor children.”
Rehearsals have been very progressive, according to Vreeken.
“We did auditions in August; we started rehearsals in early September and so far they’ve been going very well. Everybody is off-book, which doesn’t typically happen until a week before the show starts and we’ve managed to do it about a month before, so everybody is pretty much on track. We’re doing a lot of good work in our rehearsals,” Vreeken said.
Tony Cipriano plays Tyler, Nettie’s husband.
“I really like playing a more serious role because it’s more of a challenge for me. You really need to dig deep in each character– each moment and see what they’re feeling. I just really enjoy getting connected with this character and his backstory,” Cipriano said.
The set consists of a simple platform with steps. Set designer Annabelle Romanelli had to forfeit her original idea because of space constraints and multiple set changes.
“My first idea was to have two separate sets for the home and the train but we don’t really have the space for that. There are a lot of different set changes, especially in Act Two so we can’t really have that with more scene changes,” Romanelli said.
“Orphan Train” performances begin on Thursday, Nov. 3, and continue through Saturday, Nov. 6. General admission tickets are $5, while reserved seating is $8.