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The Pinckney Players
Cast members of the Pinckney Player's 'Orphan Train,' which opens April 19. Playing orphans are, from left, Nick Marquis, Annaliese Bensinger, Peter Heslip, Amy Jackowski, Patrick Rutkowski, Natalie Pettengill, Elizabeth Clark, Spencer Rohatynski, Brock Mannen, and Chloe Bensinger. They are escorted by Mrs. Leech, played by Angie Miller, and her husband, played by Geoff Pettengill.
Pinckney Players bring 'Orphan Train' to stage
Posted by lsmith April 11, 2008 | Categories: Features
The Livingston Community News
The sets aren't as bright and elaborate and the mood isn't always lighthearted, but the messages of faith and goodness that are a trademark of the Pinckney Players' productions are there in this season's final show.
"Orphan Train," written by Michigan playwright Dennis North, debuts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in the Jane Tasch Performing Arts Theatre. Subsequent shows are 2 p.m. Sunday, April 20, and 7:30 p.m. April 25-26.
This is the first time the show, which made its world premiere at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea in 2001, has been performed in Livingston County.
"It's a very creative piece," said Lynn Wilde Concannon, director. "We are dedicated to challenging our audience and being a leader in bringing new and different works to Livingston County."
"Orphan Train" weaves the real story of the trains that took orphaned children from the streets of eastern U.S. cities to work on Midwest farms from about 1853 to 1929 into the fictional story of Jake, an orphan who miraculously walks out of a New York City tenement fire and winds up with the MacCleary family in Kansas.
"If people walk into this show expecting to see a show about trains, they're going to find a show about a family," said Brad Rondeau, a Marion Township dentist who plays Conrad Strachen, the banker who will likely take the MacCleary's farm at Serendipity, Kan., because their crops are failing for lack of rain in 1929.
Nettie and Tyler MacCleary, played by Katie Huber Welty and Gary Thames, desperately want a child, but lose their newborn son at the start of the play. They are further tested by the weather and the economy and are sure to lose their farm until the "Orphan Train" carrying Jake, who's guided by angels, arrives in town.
"He's a quiet kid," said 11-year-old Peter Heslip, who shares the role of Jake with Nick Marquis. "He doesn't know he's on the train to find his real family."
The orphans are being transported by the unscrupulous Mr. and Mrs. Leech, played by Geoff Pettengill and Angie Miller, but looking out for Jake on the trip is Grace, an angel played by 15-year-old Anna Petrovskis, of Dexter.
"It's her job to protect Jake and get him where he needs to be," Petrovskis said. "I think it's neat because I'm the baby of my family and I've always wanted to be a big sister."
Many of the sound effects in "Orphan Train" including those of the train, a thunderstorm, night insects and animals, are performed by members of the ensemble cast of 40 actors.
"It is a drama, but it's a story that touches you and makes you care about this boy and the family," Wilde Concannon said. "By some miracle of faith, this boy ends up where he belongs."
• What: The touching family drama, "Orphan Train," written by Michigan playwright Dennis North and sponsored by Sound Financial Services Inc.
• When: 7:30 p.m. April 19 and April 25-26; 2 p.m. April 20.
• Where: Jane Tasch Performing Arts Theatre, located on M-36 between Navigator and Pathfinder schools in Hamburg Township.
• Who: Performed by the Pinckney Players. Directed by Lynn Wilde Concannon. Produced by Ann Langford.
• Tickets: Reserved seats are $10 for adults and $8 each for students 18 and under and senior citizens 60 and up. Prices go up $2 at the door. Advance tickets available in Pinckney at Busch's supermarket, 1277 E. M-36, and Pinckney Community Education, 125 Putnam St., and in Brighton at Brighton Tuxedo Shop, 8692 W. Grand River Ave., next to Gus' Carryout.
• Details: Call 810-220-9332 or visit the Web at www.pinckneyplayers.com.
• On the horizon: Auditions for "Holes," based on the novel by Louis Sachar, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. June 10-12 at the Jane Tasch Performing Arts Theatre.
Leanne Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 810-844-2011.