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|Youth play big hit at Princess|
by Naomi Cordill
With time I had forgotten the story of the Emperor's New Clothes -- well, the ending anyway. But I won't forget it again after the great telling of the story by the wonderful children actors of the Princess Theatre. I want to thank the kids for bringing the story to life in such a fun way.
Having been a part of a few children's plays myself, I already knew about the time and energy that Emily Arnold had to put into this production. I also knew that it "takes a village" to get something like this on the stage. It is always exciting when you drive up to the Princess, see the cars parked everywhere, the marquee lights flashing and the lobby full of excited family members and friends. The fact that this was a children's production did not reduce the excitement in the least.
The curtain opened to reveal a very happy and vibrant throne room. Now I already knew the lines for the opening scene -- my oldest grandson, Jacob, was in it; and I must say that Jacob Cordill, Amanda Kincaid and first timers Emme Cate Blackwell and Daggar Bishop (one of the youngest cast members), all handled the opening scene jitters very well. And Daggar had one of the best lines of the night when he was afraid the emperor was not going to pay the bills and all would starve -- "I hope he pays soon before we go to that great sweat shop in the sky!"
The royal court was introduced by first timer and very capable Prime Minister of Fashion, Anna Grace Ellerbe. The members stayed very "royal" all night, and each costume was perfectly designed for each part. Joseph Bruce Cordill as the Sultan of Style -- if I have to say so myself, was charming and amazing on the gong. Heidi Anderson was the Duchess of Dressing Up -- I knew that she would do a great job, for two years ago, she played Gretel in the Princess' production of "Sound of Music." Heidi's little sister, Natalie, was a first-timer and the youngest cast member as the Grand Poohba of Toiletries. Boy, could she spray that perfume! Natalie told me two years ago that she was going to be on stage like her big sister, Natalie. You made it! The final member of the court was Micha Paola, as Underlady of Underwear, also made a debut appearance on the Princess stage. She remained in character and argued with Granny in fine fashion.
Next presented was veteran actor, Dakota Stephens as the clothes horse fashion plate and Beau Brummell of satirical splendor -- the Emperor! What can I say -- Dakota was perfect for the part and was willing to do anything he had to do to get the character across. Good work Dakota.
The beautiful, yet mistreated wife of the Emperor, Pearl, was played by a first timer to the Princess stage from Newellton -- 6th grader Laura Head. But I could tell that she had been on stage before -- Sarah, please keep auditioning for our productions, and by the way, congratulations on getting cheerleader. I'm sure you'll do well with that too.
Next to the stage was possibly the strongest character of the show -- first timer Meg Stephens as Granny. I really found it hard to believe that Meg was only in the 3rd grade, but I bet she could handle any situation in which she finds herself. Granny -- you were great and convincing.
Lucy, a lady-in-waiting to Pearl, was played by Anna Claire Romero. I loved the way she played the part as non-caring and she was great flirting with one of the swindlers, Frick, who, by the way, was played by Princess veteran, Cole Linder. Cole, you just about stole the show! I kept watching you to see if you would stay in character -- and you always did. That is a trait that one just "has," and it seldom can be learned. You did a great job of disguising that you are only in the fifth grade. You and your partner-in-crime, Franz, played by returning Dillon Davis, provided some really entertaining and well-performed scenes of the play. Dillon probably had the most lines to learn for a 4th grader -- you delivered them really well. Some of the funniest moments of the play came when the Sultan of Style, Joseph Bruce Cordill, would deliver the gold to the swindlers for making the Emperor's clothes and find different ways t drop the heavy bags on Frick!
The deeper meaning of the story came to the surface as Granny and Pearl learn about there actually being no new clothes -- just in people's minds. Yet they realized that no one would say anything negative, much less they had actually seen nothing. We all can be swayed to believe and sometimes we see things without convictions -- worried about what people would think or say.
I want to thank Emily for again taking on the children's productions. Having our young people involved in the arts will insure the arts will flourish. This focus of the Princess, executive director Gene Thompson and the board are right on! With this aged actors, parents and grandparents become a very important part of the production -- just getting the kids to rehearsal would be enough, but they help with sets, costumes, monitor, provide snacks and then help to fill the theatre on production night(s). It could not be done without this commitment. Thank each one of you.
Special thanks go to prop-builder, the Honorable Jimbo Stephens, the staff of the Franklin Parish Library, Nathan Roberts, Gene and Marcy Thompson and Foxes Pizza.
As a few days have passed since my viewing this play and a total of six performances have been presented, I still am amazed that such young boys and girls (PK to 6th) pulled off such a great, full-length production. Just keep on acting and being a Princess player.
P.S. Did you realize that almost half of the cast made their Princess debut in "The Emperor's New Clothes"?