Thursday, December 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘A Little Princess’ falls just short of rich promise

Alyssa Middleton as Sara and Jerry Lee as Captain Crewe star in the Sacramento Theatre Company's production of "A Little Princess." Kelly Christoffersen/Courtesy photo

By
From page A8 | May 02, 2013 |

Check it out

What: World premiere of “A Little Princess”

When: 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through May 19

Where: Sacramento Theatre Company’s Main Stage, 1419 H St., Sacramento

Tickets: $15-$38, with discounts for students, seniors and groups; www.sactheatre.org; 916-443-6722

SACRAMENTO — The air was filled with excitement at the Sacramento Theatre Company on Saturday night — opening night of the world premiere of a new musical, “A Little Princess,” based on the beloved book by Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of “The Secret Garden”).

The authors of the new musical — William J. Brooke (book), Eric Rockwell (music) and Margaret Rose (lyrics) — apparently have been writing this show for almost 20 years. The first draft was presented as a staged reading at the Stages Festival of New Music in Chicago. After rewrites, the show was selected by the Dramatists Guild for its New Musicals Workshop. There, it was praised by industry dignitaries and now, at last, it was having its world premiere, under the direction of Michael Laum, STC’s executive producing director.

This show has everything one could want to make it a hit. The cast is strong, the songs are alternately pleasant and stirring, the set by Kelly Tighe works well and Jessica Minnihan’s costumes are beautiful. And yet, somehow with all these strong elements, the show just never quite gelled.

We were a good third of the way into the show before there even seemed to be a plot, though thin, and, expecting all of the disparate plot elements to come together in Act 2, it was a surprise that of the seven songs in that act, the first four did not advance the plot at all, and seemed to be stand-alone pieces. One of them may even have been an homage to “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast.”

Yet in spite of the shortcomings of the show as a whole, there were enough really good things about it to make it an enjoyable evening. Many of the roles are double-cast and Alyssa Middleton as Sara Crewe (she alternates with Lauren Metzinger) was simply outstanding. This Davis High School sophomore and member of STC’s Young Professionals’ Conservatory carries the show and does it beautifully.

Her duet with her father (Jerry Lee) is poignant, as Captain Crewe must say goodbye to his daughter at the door of the boarding school where she will live while he is off seeking a greater fortune in India.

Lee is a memorable Crewe, with a rich voice and a love for his daughter that comes through in all of his scenes with her.

This being England, the headmistress of the boarding school is a harridan of the first order, who kowtows to Sara because of her father’s wealth, but when Sara suffers a reversal of fortune, Miss Minchin (Deborah Tranelli) shows her true colors and makes “Annie’s” Miss Hannigan look almost pleasant. She takes everything away from Sara, including her name (she is called “Girl”), and sets her to scrubbing floors.

The girls in the school never really liked Sara in the first place, especially Lavinia (Abbey Williams-Campbell on opening night, sharing the role with Meghan Greene). Lavinia is tall and blond and haughty and has nothing but bad things to say (and do) to Sara, even before her fall from grace. Williams-Campbell played her with all the icy hauteur the role requires.

On the other hand, Ermengarde (Devon Hayakawa of Davis, sharing the role with Christine Miyashiro), described by some as the “school dunce,” falls in love with the stories that Sara makes up to entertain the girls, and becomes her friend and would-be protector. Hayakawa is cute as a button and very endearing as she remains Sara’s friend even when she has been reduced to the level of a maid.

Josh Powell is Tom Carrisford, Captain Crewe’s friend, who talks Crewe into investing all of his money in diamond mine speculation, both of them falling ill before the mine begins producing. Crewe dies of his illness, and Carrisford returns to England, weak and still ill, but now rich and feeling the guilt of his partner’s death. Powell is a delight, with a comedic flair, but ultimately turning serious as he takes on the responsibility for his partner’s daughter.

Others worthy of note in the cast include Tyler Wipfli as Mariette, Sara’s French maid, who inexplicably turns up after a couple of years just in time for the finale.

Martha Omiyo Kight is marvelous as Amelia, Miss Minchin’s henpecked sister.

Tori Johnson alternates with Emma Vance as Becky, a scullery maid who becomes Sara’s friend and roommate.

And unforgettable is Michael De Souza as Ram Dass, Carrisford’s servant, who serves as a narrator for the story. His strong voice and deadpan demeanor make him impossible to ignore.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, but I wish I could put my finger on what was missing to make it the great show it should have been.

Comments

comments

.

News

Former foster youths aided by UCD’s Guardian programs

By Sarah Colwell | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Rain Recyclers saves water for another day

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
City plans signs to improve flow on Fifth Street

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
State gets more rain, big mudslide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Boston bombing suspect in court for first time since 2013

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
U.S., Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

Supplies collected for victims of abuse

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Feds will discuss Berryessa Snow Mountain protection

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
‘Longest Night’ service Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Nominate teens for Golden Heart awards

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Journalist will join post-film discussion Thursday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

City offices will take a winter break

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Konditorei presents free holiday concert

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Yolo County needs a few good advisers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Per Capita Davis: Time to stop fooling around

By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

 
NAMI-Yolo offers free mental health education program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

.

Forum

Disagreement on mother’s care

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Marovich is a brilliant diplomat

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

And a jolly time was had by all

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Remember that all lives matter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Pollution from electric vehicles

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

On skiing: What to know when buying new skis

By Jeffrey Weidel | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil boys host Les Curry beginning Thursday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

UCD women gear up for second half of swim season

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men begin 4-game road trip at Air Force

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Youth roundup: DBC Juniors rider Kanz wins a cyclocross event

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
.

Features

College Corner: How does applying for financial aid work?

By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B3

 
What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B3

 
Anniversary: Barbara and Jan Carter

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Something growing in the mailbox

By Don Shor | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

Sing and dance along to Cold Shot at Froggy’s

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Point of Brew: Recollections of Christmases past

By Michael Lewis | From Page: A7

Golden Bough brings Irish holidays to The Palms

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Come ‘Home for the Holidays’ and benefit school arts

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, December 18, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6

 
.

Last Minute Gift Guide

Young phenoms make YouTube success look like child’s play

By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG1

Classic or contemporary, it’s all holiday music to our ears

By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG2

Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG3

Holiday decorating contest winners light up our lives

By Dave Ryan | From Page: LMG4 | Gallery

Gift ideas for the health-conscious

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: LMG6

Hall of Fame proudly puts these toys on the shelf

By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG7