After five months of filming and editing, Westerville North High School’s film production of Deborah Craig’s “Orphan Trains” will be available to watch through Broadway on Demand from April 7 to 11.
The play tells the story of the Orphan Trains Project that was established in 1853 by the Children’s Aid Society to unite adoptive parents with orphans throughout the country.
“This play brings to life the stories of diverse orphaned children from New York City who were sent by train to various towns in the United States to be adopted,” said Kim Mollohan, director of Westerville North’s theatre department. “Their journeys in the early 1900s are those of hardship and happiness with the adoptive parents who ‘chose’ them. From their many compelling experiences, we come to know how their lives changed and/or how they lived out their lives.”
Mollohan sought a play that could be performed in vignettes and wouldn’t require a large number of students in a scene together. She was drawn to the Orphan Trains story and sharing the journey of all involved: the orphaned children, the families that opened their hearts and homes to them and those who weren’t adopted and were forced to work or left to survive on their own.
“It was, in my opinion, the perfect piece for the time for so many reasons,” she said. “Our kids became very grateful for what they had even in the midst of what was taken away from them because of COVID. I think they stopped and took a look at their life and reflected on what they have.”
The production was unlike anything Westerville North’s theatre department had undertaken, Mollohan said. Instead of recording students performing the play on a stage, they performed for film, learning the differences between acting on stage and being on film.
Two parent volunteers, Aaron Layne and Sam Fahmi, shot and edited the film and social studies teacher Damon Mollenkopf provided support to the production team.
For details on ticketing information and links to the film, visit the Westerville North Theatre Boosters webpage.