Paw Paw Playhouse enlists more than 20 kids for "A Little Princess"

Dec 4, 2012

The Paw Paw Village Players will perform the musical A Little Princess starting Friday. The musical is based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett about a girl named Sarah Crewe who is sent to a boarding school in London while her father is doing business in India. 

Director Jeanne Craig says most people are probably more familiar with the movie starring Shirley Temple.

Sarah makes many friends at the school, but also an enemy. Kiarra Herson plays Sarah's competitor Lavinia.

“Lavinia is a star pupil who doesn’t really like Sarah because she takes all the things that she wants,” says Herson.

But Levinia isn’t just jealous of Sarah’s wealth, she also wishes she had a better relationship with her father. Overall, Sarah is treated very well at Miss Minchin's Boarding School until Miss Minchin receives the bad news that Sarah’s wealthy father has died.

Miss Minchin, played by Jade Balkema, forces Sarah to earn her keep by becoming a maid in the boarding school. Sarah and another maid named Becky have to live in the dark upstairs attic and eat gruel.

“She misses her dad. And well, she still has friends but she’s not sure who’s really her friend anymore," says Kaitlin Hamacher who plays Ermengarde, another girl at the school. "Because she had lots of friends when she was rich, she’s not sure who will still be her friend when she’s poor.”

Through it all Sarah tries to keep a positive attitude.

“It says here that I’m intelligent and imaginative,” says Emma Beal who plays Sarah Crewe. “I pretend that I’m just a prisoner and that someday I will break out.”

“The truth of it is, is that Sarah is a resilient young lady and finds strength in her friendships with some of the other ladies as well as her own inner strength," Diretor Jeanne Craig says. "So it’s her story of growth and capability.”

The cast in crew is mostly made up of kids from the Paw Paw—Mattawan area.

“You know, some people would say ‘Oh grace, it’s like herding cats!’ You know, trying to get all of these kids in line," says Craig. "They really have a level of professionalism that would surprise people I think. And that’s why I have enjoyed it so much.”

Most of the children in the cast have acted in plays and musicals before. Music director Shannon Kaeding says this musical really shows what they can do.

“It’s not just everybody singing the same thing, there’s groups, so we get a little bit of depth and complexity to each song. Gives the kids a chance to really kind of come out of their comfort zones. So they can expand their horizons and get to a point where they are really able to do even more the next time they come around to the theater," Kaeding says. "So, rather than just coming up and singing just one flat song, it’s really dynamic."

You can see the musical A Little Princess starting Friday at the Paw Paw Playhouse.