Musical Drama Orphan Train Plays NYMF, Sept. 22-Oct. 1

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Orphan Train, which is billed as a "heartbreaking musical awakening based on 250,000 true stories" will be performed in its world premiere from September 22nd through October 1st at the Theatre at St. Clements (423 West 46th Street) as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

"Directed by two-time Emmy Award winning and five-time Tony Award nominee Pat Birch, the musical is based on the true life stories of some of the 250,000 children that were abandoned to die on the streets of New York in the late nineteenth century until Charles Loring Brace single-handedly organized a solution that saved hundreds and thousands of lives," according to production notes. "The newspapers referred to these abandoned children as 'surplus.' Insisting on their right to dignity and survival, Reverend Brace addressed them as adults who were temporarily homeless. His solution was to transport them by railroad to the Mid-West and the West where they were adopted by established families. The trains quickly became know as orphan trains.

Reverend Brace's program had a stormy start-up as hundreds of children were delivered into safety and comfort while others found misery and peril at the other end of the line. There was never enough money. And there were months when the scandals seemed to by multiplying geometrically. But the Reverend's obsession with the notion that everyone is entitled to an education and a life devoid of terror and starvation manifested itself successfully into a legacy which encompasses today's Children's Aid Society... the musical takes as riveting and emotional a ride as did the original trains of terrified and hopeful kids."

Orphan Train is composed by Doug Katsaros (orchestrator for Altar Boyz, The Rocky Horror Show, vocal and dance arranger for The Life), and features lyrics by Michael Barry Greer (off-Broadway revues Break a Leg, The Way It Is) and a book by award-winning novelist/journalist/playwright L.E. McCullough (Blues for Miss Buttercup). The musical is presented by Jonathan Stuart Cerullo and NYMF.

In a career that crosses all media, Birch has earned two Emmy Awards, five Tony nominations, as well as Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, Billboard and MTV awards, a Directors Guild nomination and the prestigious Fred Astaire Award for her choreography and direction of music-driven projects ranging from Sondheim to the Rolling Stones. Birch has done the musical staging and choreography for the original Broadway and off-Broadway productions of: Candide, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Me Nobody Knows, A Little Night Music, Grease, Over Here, Pacific Overtures, They're Playing Our Song, Zoot Suit, Gilda Radner, Live From New York, Anna Karenina, Parade and Diamond Studs. She has directed as well as choreographed Really Rosie, Raggedy Ann, Elvis and Club 12. In the opera world, she has choreographed and staged The Mikado and Candide for NYCO, the pas de deux in Street Scene, The Mass (by Leonard Bernstein, with Sara Caldwell) at the Opera Company of Boston in 1988 and the acclaimed 1990 premiere of The Balcony, which she also directed at the Bolshoi Opera in May, 1991. In addition, she has done extensive work in film (Grease, Working Girl, Billy Bathgate), TV, in the dance world (with the Alvin Ailey Company), and music videos.

The show's performance schedule is Thursday, September 22nd at 8:00pm, Saturday, September 24th at 1:00pm, Wednesday, September 28th at 2:00pm, Friday, September 30th at 9:00pm, Saturday, October 1st at 1:00pm and Saturday, October 1st at 5:00pm.

Tickets, priced at $15, are available via www.nymf.org or (212) 352-3101 or Toll Free at (866) 811-4111. They will also be available at Virgin Megastore in Times Square for cash/credit card sales. Remaining tickets will be available one hour prior to each performance at the Lion Theatre Box Office.



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