I am in awe of such an amazing amount of talent in one small space. It is hard to believe this company consists of students of prestigious drama schools and universities. Their skills are accomplished and developed way beyond their years and experience. Adapted and directed by the Graduates of Durham University, this beautiful and much loved children’s story by Frances Hodgson Burnett is brought to life with puppetry and song, using a unique score written and performed by the students from the Guildhall School of Music. It is very sweet and very moving and at just over an hour long it is well worth spending time with this company to restore your faith in human nature.
The story revolves around Sara Crewe, an exceptionally intelligent and imaginative student at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies, who is devastated when her adored, indulgent father dies. Left penniless and banished to a room in the attic, Sara is demeaned, abused, and forced to work as a servant. Despite this reversal of fortunes she is still much loved by her former student pals, the scullery maid and her new friends a rat and a monkey. Her heart is large and her imagination endless and with these attributes she manages to not only survive her hardships but still think of others before herself. It is a humbling, heartbreaking, heart warming tale. Izzie Price’s performance as ‘Sara’ brought both herself and the audience to tears by being engaging and emotive. We were even asked to join her fantasies by closing our eyes and imagining the magic she was weaving.
The support cast were each as strong as the next. Miss Minchin (Louisa Mathieu) brought a formidable maturity and a streak of ‘Annie’s’ Miss Hannigan to the group and I loved Beth Greenwood’s portrayal as the school bully. Jealousy and nastiness oozed from her, reminiscent of the class troublemaker that we have all encountered. Her ability to flip from this role to playing Rose a starving beggar girl in a secondary role was a credit to her abilities. Ermengarde (India Footer) created and a perfect boarding school ‘chum’ full of privilege and the innocence of childhood along with Emma-Louise Howell who also transformed into a warm and enlightened baker who’s life was touched by Sara’s goodness.
The men in the cast were also on fine form and particularly fine voice. Tim Blore and Tom McNulty both played dual roles impeccably and sang in rich wonderful tones that complemented the ladies harmonies. Everything blended together seamlessly; the live piano was an excellent compliment to the performance. A wonderful story and a fantastic adaptation, the whole effect was a feel good wonder to be enjoyed by the young and the young at heart.
Review by Rachel Borland
Adapted and directed by Durham University graduates, “A Little Princess” is a new adaptation of the original novel with an original, traditional score by a current Music student at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Sara Crewe has brains, money, friends, a loving father and a kind heart. At Miss Minchin’s Seminary for Girls, she seems to be the most popular student the school has ever had among both staff and students; excelling at all lessons and befriending everyone in the school, from her fellow pupils to Becky, the scullery-maid. Her powerful imagination and her ability to see the beauty and the good in everything endears her to everyone she meets; except, perhaps, Lavinia Herbert, a more unforgiving student at the school, and Miss Minchin herself.
But when her beloved father dies from a combination of jungle fever and business troubles and Sara is left a penniless orphan, she has to rely on her imagination to cope as she grieves for her father, becomes a “maid of all work,” and is cruelly abused by Miss Minchin at the school she once called a home.
A tale of friendship, poverty, love and most of all the power of imagination, our adaptation of “A Little Princess” portrays the darkest elements of the story whilst exploring the power of hope that has made this story such a national treasure.
Sara Crewe: Izzie Price
Miss Minchin: Louisa Mathieu
Becky: Hattie Knight
Ermengarde/Jessie: India Footer
Lottie/Bakery Woman: Emma-Louise Howell
Captain Crewe/Mr Carrisford: Tim Blore
Lavinia/Rose: Beth Greenwood
Mr Barrow/Mr Carmichael: Tom McNulty
Director: Steffi Walker
Producer/Composer/Pianist: Flick Chilton
Assistant Producer: Ben Foster
Stage Manager: Edward Cherrie
Public Relations Officer: Izzie Price