Monday, January 27, 2014

January 2014: COA Show Sheds New Light on NC Native’s Involvement in the Underground Railroad

            For Immediate Release
            January 24, 2014
            CONTACT: Lisa Johnson,
Development Officer & External Relations
            Release No: 01LJ-PR-2014

Upcoming COA Show Sheds New Light on North Carolina Native’s Involvement in the Underground Railroad

Levi Coffin knew the slave hunters were watching.
Coffin, an abolitionist, was helping a group of escaped slaves reach freedom after their boat capsized in Cincinnati, so he came up with an ingenious plan: He disguised the group as a funeral procession and walked them through town, and on to their escape.

“I believe Levi Coffin ended up helping 2,500 people," said David Ostergaard, founder of Bright Star Touring Theatre, whose group will perform Heroes of the Underground Railroad on Jan. 30 at College of The Albemarle’s Performing Arts Center. The group will perform two shows, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., as part of COA’s Student Series which are open to area schools.

“His home was called the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad and he was named President of the Underground Railroad,” Ostergaard added.

Ostergaard’s Asheville, N.C., theater group performs for schools throughout the United States and specializes in education-based performances aimed at meeting the needs of school curriculums. While the group’s performances tell the stories of well-known historical figures like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, the stories of others who played significant roles in the Underground Railroad also are included.

Ostergaard learned about Coffin - a Greensboro, N.C., native, after a visit to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Philadelphia. It surprised him because Ostergaard, a lifelong North Carolina resident, had never learned about Coffin as a student.

“I’m a product of North Carolina schools and had never heard these stories before,” Ostergaard said. “I never heard any of these stories growing up, so it inspired us to create the show.”

The 45-minute production is aimed at third-grade students and older and will bring the stories of more than a dozen notable abolitionists and slaves to life. Tickets for Heroes of the Underground Railroad are $5 and can be purchased online at, or at the Box Office located at 1208 N. Road Street, Elizabeth City, 27909. For more information, call 252.335.9050.

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