The Orphans of USP's Production of Annie

The story of Annie centers on a life that seems almost mythical in today’s world, but for children in cities like New York during the Great Depression the life of an orphan was very common, and very bleak. Today we think of an orphan as a child with no living parent, but during that time there were few orphans who didn’t have at least one parent living. For unemployed adults with little hope, dropping their children off at an orphanage was a way to ensure the well being of the child while the parents attempted to better their lives. During the Great Depression, the number of children in orphanages swelled. Parents left their children with an orphanage and travelled to other areas of the country to try and find work, fully intending to return and claim their children once they had a means of support.

Annie’s story was very common. Children spent years in the orphanage waiting for their parents to come back and claim them. It’s hard to imagine the heartache of a little girl like Annie watching as time after time other orphans were picked up by their parents, but hers never came.

Even before the Great Depression, the orphanages of New York became so overcrowded that private aid groups sought to find ways of dispersing the orphans to families willing to take them. Orphans like Annie were sometimes placed on an Orphan Train. Children were  put on a train with a one way ticket headed west. Many rural areas of the country had families who could use extra hands on the farm, and communities were willing to take in orphans. So as the train stopped along the route, the orphans were adopted out to locals willing to take them in. I’ve heard tell of elderly residents in our area who were children of the Orphan Trains. Orphan Train children ended up in all 48 contiguous states. The trains stopped running in 1929, but as Annie was dropped off at the orphanage in 1922, she certainly could have ended up on one.

The orphans of our production of Annie do a wonderful job on stage sharing with us their “hard-knock” life with the villianous Miss Hannigan (Jana De Zwarte).  The orphans are:

Molly………………………… Taryn Johnson
Pepper……………………….Eleanor Witt
July……………………………Mariah Kooyman
Duffy…………………………Elyse Parisee
Tessie…………………………Danielle Nardini
Kate……………………………Kara Schaudt

Orphan Chorus……………Evie Armstrong
…………………………………Mackenzie Becker
…………………………………Molly Bolt
…………………………………Caroline Bradley
…………………………………Pearl Doty
…………………………………Abby Gross
…………………………………Ariana Guerena
…………………………………Isabelle Hall
…………………………………Annie Matherly
…………………………………Jalayna Morgan
…………………………………Sarah Peterson
…………………………………Greta Putnam
…………………………………Hannah Smart
…………………………………Jessa Van Gorp
…………………………………Halle Van Vark
…………………………………Olivia Vander Leest
…………………………………Madeline Webb
…………………………………Sierra White

Bullets

  • Illness continue to ravage cast and crew. One of our Annies (Rachel Peter) was out last night with the flu. All cast members are encouraged to wash their hands constantly, eat well, and get plenty of rest!
  • If you didn’t get our earlier post, the Pella Community Services office is closed until next Monday, so no tickets can be purchased in person until then. Tickets can still be purchased in the meantime by phone using a credit card and calling Tom or Wendy at 641-620-9107.
  • Tonight is Run Through of Act II and will be the last rehearsal until next week. Everyone gets a five day Thanksgiving holiday!!
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2010 Annie
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  1. […] 2.) Read more information about orphanages at this time An Orphan’s Hard Knock Life […]

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