Tuesday, June 21, 2011

'A Little Princess' brings back memories and creates new ones

By Cheryl Thornburg
There are some amazing young actors in this area as I have witnessed in recent weeks, and Reading Community Players' production of  "A Little Princess" showcases many of them.
This classic tale of  Sarah Crewe, who grows up in India and is pampered by her wealthy father, will be familiar to many of us thanks to the timeless Shirley Temple film about the little girl who is her father's "little princess." He sends her to a boarding school in London, but then dies suddenly and Sara  becomes a pauper and  has to work as a servant at the school where she was once a student.
Photo by Phil Wheeler
Kathryn Majesky plays Sara Crewe
in RCP's "A Little Princess."
It is based on the 1905 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett that has been retold in many forms -- even Japanese anime.
Kathryn Majesky, a 6th-grade student at Oley Valley Middle School, plays Sara with the poise and composure befitting a princess as she goes from princess to pauper.  Her portrayal of the kind-hearted Sara is believable and endearing.
Not endearing is the play's villainess, Miss Minchin played with iron-clad talent by Debbie Maier. She brings the stern, self-centered school mistress to life, creating one of those characters that you love to hate.
Also relishing a role as a mini-villainess is Christina Flamporis as Lavinia, the school's "mean girl" who is always causing trouble for the other girls. Christina, who will be a 7th-grader at Exeter Junior High in the fall, is delightfully devious as the outgoing and mischievous Lavinia.
Her real-life twin sister, Melissa, plays another of the students, Jessie, who is the opposite of Lavinia, quiet and shy.
Playing other students in the school are Kassandra Scheese, as Emengarde who has to eat throughout the entire show; and Alainnah Seyler, as Lottie who gets to throw an amazing temper tantrum.
Julia De Gruchy, a 10th-grader at Wilson High School, makes the most of her role as Becky, the beleaguered, over-worked maid. She brings whining to a whole new level.
Other young actors include Mazie Sol Strouse as Annie, Nicole Greenfield as Janet, Rebekka Schwenk as Nora, and Robert Harwell as Guy Lawrence.
Though the young actors shine in this production, there are also some fine performances by adults in the cast including Deb Brubaker, as Amelia, Miss Minchin's submissive and put-upon  sister; Mindy Wheeler, as Sara's  French maid, Marie; and Diann Stewart, as Miss Tibault, the French tutor.
Photo by Phil Wheeler
Kathryn Majesky, left, plays Sara  Crewe;  Robert Harwell, Guy Lawrence,
Nicole Greenfield, Janet; and  Rebekka Schwenk,  Nora, in
Reading Community Players production of "A Little Princess."
  
Ruth Martelli  played Mrs. Perrins in last Sunday‚Äôs show (Kathy Newville also will  play that role for some performances); Patrick McCaffrey, plays a lawyer, Mr. Barrows;  Brian Miller, Mr. Carrisford, a friend of Sara's father; Steve Dzielak,  Lascar, a servant; and Greg Harwell, Mr. Michaels, another lawyer.
The show is directed by Debbi Silas, assisted by Marissa Hoover,
It offers great family entertainment for just a little more than a trip to a movie and adds the intimacy and excitement if live theater. This is a perfect show to introduce your children and grandchildren to what can lead to a lifelong passion for the performing arts.
"A Little Princess" continues through Sunday June 26 in the Playhouse at 403 North 11th St. in Reading.
Showtime for Friday and Saturday performances is 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinee is 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for students and $10 for seniors 65 and older.
Additionally, princess gift bags will be available for sale at each performance.
Free parking is available at 13th & Green Elementary School with a free shuttle service to the theater.
  For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.rcptheatre.com  or call the box office at 610-374-0777.

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