Share This Page

Thomas Jefferson musical cast seeks donations to benefit upkeep of railway car

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Submitted
Car No. 832 leads a three-car parade to the Trolley Museum on Feb. 7, 1954.
Jack Sutherland fits doors to Car No. 832. J
Jim Herron applies shellac to Car No. 832 woodwork.

Even teenagers know “The Trolley Song,” a show tune from “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

But the version they remember may have come from watching the Main Street Trolley Show at Disney World instead of the 1944 Judy Garland film.

Whatever the reason, when Thomas Jefferson High School's musical cast members take to the stage March 13, 14 and 15, they will invite the audience to support the restoration of a real trolley — West Penn Railways Car 832 — at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Chartiers. The cast also will donate the fines that were paid for infractions during the weeks of rehearsals.

Director Sandra Barker's husband, J.B., suggested the Washington County museum as the beneficiary of the musical. The couple used to take their children to see the trolleys when they were young.

“Every year during the musical, we try to undertake some project that enables us to give back to the community, which is always so supportive of us,” Barker said.

In the last four years, organizations were matched with different musicals. Animal Friends was connected to “Beauty and the Beast;” Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and “Oliver;” Sisters Place with “Willy Wonka;” and the Big Brothers, Big Sisters local program with “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

A trolley became a natural symbol for the production's T-shirts and programs. Elementary school students also are participating in a “Name the Trolley” contest.

The West Penn Railways Car 832 was built in 1929 in Cincinnati. The trolley came to the museum in 1954. Museum Executive Director Scott Becker retold the story of its first run.

“It was called ‘Miss Brackenridge' and christened on Feb. 14, 1930,” he said. “Since it was during Prohibition, instead of champagne, they used ginger ale from a local bottler.”

The trolley's route went to Aspinwall, New Kensington and Natrona but was abandoned in 1937. The trolley next traveled to Latrobe, Fairchance, Phillips and South Connellsville, finishing there in 1952.

Car 832, the second trolley the museum acquired, came to the museum in a three-trolley parade, Becker said.

Restoration was sporadic until 2010 when, through a $350,000 grant and private donations, major work was completed in Brookville, Jefferson County.

Its roof and seats were reupholstered, the floor and wiring redone and the motors and under carriage cleaned. The trolley later returned to the museum, so volunteers could complete the work.

“It was a gut rehab,” Becker said, explaining it was much like “gutting” a house for repairs.

The work continues to bring 832 back to its glory days, when it rode the rails in orange and cream with its brown roof and black wheels.

Two representatives from the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum will attend the musical performances and are asking audiences to donate to the cause. They also will offer two prizes: one will be awarded through a ticket drawing; and the other will be given to the student who best names TJ's on-stage trolley.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.