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Capital Repertory Theatre to Perform Erie Canal Play

Capital Repertory Theatre to Perform Erie Canal Play

Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site is excited to announce that The Capital Repertory Theatre will present They Built America: the Workers of the Erie Canal in partnership with the Canajoharie Library on Tuesday, March 28th at the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie.  The doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7pm.  Light refreshments will be available after this free program.

They Built America tells the story of a young Irish immigrant named Kelly McPherson, a teenage girl who disguises herself as a boy to work on the Erie Canal. As Kelly searches for her brother, who has gone on ahead of her, she meets historical figures such as DeWitt Clinton and Canvass White (the scientist who invented the first waterproof cement). She also encounters leaders of the New York State Legislature; and a variety of immigrant workers including Sal (a Cockney cook), Tony (an Italian stonecutter) and Gus and Inga Erickson (Swedish immigrants who commandeer one of the canal packet boats).

Sourced from more than 35 historical records, the characters in the play are based on real men, women and children—politicians, farmers, merchants and laborers, who came north to build the Erie Canal, the miraculous waterway that transformed America into a great nation, and made New York the Empire State.

The production features five songs of the period, including “Oh! That Low Bridge,” “Song of the Diggers” and the beloved tune taught in schools state wide, “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal.” All are arranged by folklorist George Ward and performed by the company on guitars, fiddle and percussion instruments.

Researched by historian Rena Kosersky and written by Capital Repertory Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, They Built America: The Workers of the Erie Canal is the third original play in a series highlighting the role of upstate New York in forging the history of America.

Schoharie Crossing is a wonderful location to witness the marvel of the Erie Canal.  Contained within the boundaries of the site are segments of the original 1820’s canal as well as from the Enlarged era and the remains of the Schoharie Creek Aqueduct.  The site is adjacent to today’s modern canal on the Mohawk River and Tribes Hill Lock E12.  Partnership for this program with the Canajoharie Library helps bring this performance to another canal town and to the larger Mohawk Valley community.  Collaborative programs will continue between the site and library during the Erie Canal bicentennial celebrations.  Performance at the Arkell Museum, 2 Erie Blvd., Canajoharie, 13317.  For more information, contact Janice at Schoharie Crossing – (518)829-7518 or