Reviews

theatre_0047“Orphan Train is an unromanticized yet smartly sensitive musical-theatre portrayal of a polemical chapter of late 19th-century American history: the forced relocation of New York City’s orphaned street kids, tagged “surplus children”, to farms in the Midwest. With a winsome score that uses catchy stylistic diversity to reflect the complexities of the show’s absorbing content, and strong performances by all the adults in the cast, Orphan Train is a touching new musical that will seriously entertain anyone who is, or ever was, a kid. Intellectually challenging, emotionally enthralling, and visually transporting, with evocative period projections by Richard Finkelstein and costumes by Daniel James Cole.”   — Lisa Jo Sagolla, Backstage

“This slice-of-history musical is undoubtedly the one Festival show that will exert the strongest tug on your heart strings. As the stunning finale of the musical with a book by the prolific journalist and author, L.E. McCullough, makes all too plain, the problem of ‘surplus children’ remains with us.”  — Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp

“It’s the children who make this musical a worthy experience. With their poignant songs and stage innocence they make this a message play about the condition of children throughout history.”  — Larry Litt, New York Theatre Wire

ot_troy_002“Welcome to Orphan Train, a tiny but moving little musical. . . Although it’s set in 1872, Birch makes sure that Orphan Train doesn’t remain a period piece. After 78 minutes of watching the action unfold, Birch has her players return in modern streetclothes to recite statistics about homelessness and poverty among children in our time. It’s a sobering end to a night that will make you think.”   — Peter D. Kramer, Journal News

“Under Patricia Birch’s able direction, the musicalized story of these children’s transports realizes all its opportunities to engage the audience emotionally. And contrary to what you might expect from this somber subject matter, this is not a sung-through, operatic and atonal musical. Doug Katsaros’ score is packed with melody rich songs. Though, like most musical scores, it needs to be heard several times to be fully appreciated, the more than a dozen members of this production’s excellent ensemble (most multi-tasking in several roles) do full justice to the show’s acting and singing.” Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp

“This poignant piece of musical theatre is being performed by the New York State Theatre Institute under the direction of Patricia Birch. It all works quite well together, the music, lyrics, set, and costumes but it is the power of the story itself that makes this an unforgettable afternoon at the theatre.” — Charles Isaac, Joy Papers

Pritchart Home“With fine young performers from the region’s schools blended with the excellent professional actors of the NYSTI company, the story is told simply yet tellingly by L. E. McCullough’s script, underscored by Doug Katsaros’ compelling music and Michael Barry Greer’s incisive lyrics.”  — Martin Kelly, Ravena News Herald

“Orphan Train has the comic book-grit of “Annie” combined with the raw guts of a Sondheim historical show. This is an important show, entertaining in the extreme and historically informative at the same time. Melding these elements is not easy but the creators and interpreters here have done the job of giving their audience more than they bargained for and still sending them out humming.”  — J. Peter Bergman, Bright Focus

Hobos Dancing“High-quality emotional verve… Every role in this production is filled beautifully. You’ll find yourself repeating the hooks over and over again days after watching it – and remembering the voices of the singers to boot.”  — Galen Hawthorne, Fairfield Ledger

* All photos by Richard Finkelstein

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