StarStruck’s “A Little Princess” Brings Classic Children’s Story to Life

By Lauren Lola
College Student/Writer
Fremont Patch – January 16, 2013

Last weekend, Fremont’s youth performing arts organization, StarStruck Theatre, had the honor of premiering a musical adaptation by Andrew Lippa of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess” at the Smith Center at Ohlone College. Under the direction of Lori Stokes, the cast and crew brought to the stage several months of rehearsals into a lively, thrilling performance of this classic children’s story.

“A Little Princess” follows Sara Crewe, a young girl who grows up in Fort St. Louis in Africa with her father. Despite coming from a wealthy background, Sara is bright, imaginative and treats everyone she meets kindly; the way a princess would, as it is frequently implied throughout the show. Her personality rises above the heavy evidence of her wealth as she goes off to boarding school in England and while it stirs her enemies- the headmistress Miss Minchin being one of them- she also forms friendships as well.

Sara’s world falls apart when it is reported that her father dies while on a mission to the city of Timbuktu and leaves her penniless.  Miss Minchin takes advantage of the situation by making Sara a serving girl and abuses her in every which way. In the midst of despair though, Sara still maintains her princess qualities as she did before and is determined to find out what really happened to her father.

The young artists of StarStruck Theatre have, once again, received the notable compliment of “I can’t believe those are kids who are doing that” with their performance of “A Little Performance.” Every dance move that was executed, every song that was sung and every line that was acted gave off the high quality vibes they are known for. In particular, it shall be duly noted that it was very wise of everyone to really get into character by putting on British accents when on the streets of London and learning bits of African dialect for the scenes set in Africa.

In addition, the tech and production crew did an incredible job with the sets on stage. The 1830’s London backdrop gave a feel for roaming about the streets of the city back in that era and song numbers set in Africa felt like it really was there with the broad sky in the background. The set transitions were very well done as well, in particular during the “Soldier On” number as Sara goes up to her attic for the first time and also when she and her friend Pasko are escaping across the rooftops of London.

Rachel Sue’s portrayal of Sara Crewe contained the heartfelt kindness that is required for the character not only in acting but in song as well.

Despite her youthful looks from her profile photo, Karina Simpson dons the wig and dress well as she becomes a truly sinister and immediate dislikable Miss Minchin.

Jack Smith as Sara’s father, Captain Crewe, really fell into the role rather well, as he shows the emotional side effects of being apart from his daughter- his heart, really- while on his way to Timbuktu.

Other notable performers in the show include Cara Wodka’s comedic Miss Amelia, the riveting vocals of Paulo Gladney as Pasko and Ally Abonador as the aggravating Lavinia.

Above all the theatrical elements that made this performance more than enjoyable, it was great to see that the performance kept true to the original messages and themes of the story. In an era where a lot of young people have never heard of “A Little Princess” or don’t know what it’s about, then StarStruck’s rendition of it is more than sufficient in showing what it’s all about: friendship, optimism, courage and karma.