'Orphan Train,' currently being staged at Hillsboro Artists' Regional Theatre, is infused with subtle messages of peace, love and acceptance. The story centers on 13 children who spend a chilly Christmas Eve night in a remote train depot. Writer and Director Ray Hale has crafted a poignant tale that warmly embraces remembrances of family, food and song as a celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.
The children, on their way to Wales to escape the bombings in London, are stranded in Leighton Buzzard. Unknown to each other prior to their journey, they come together in a common bond to help alleviate their unhappiness of leaving their parents. It was not difficult to sort out the personalities among the children, and their cultural and religious backgrounds slowly emerged throughout their interactions. Hale opted to interweave their stories with familiar and not-so-familiar Christmas carols, tossing in a song from Disney's 'Pinocchio' as well. Music is their common denominator and is a potent curative for their sadness.
Hale recounted a complex story with simple and touching charm, and the performances by the children felt genuine and sincere. They maintained their British accents throughout the production, not always an easy task.
Make time for this one in your busy holiday schedule.