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Theatre Review: A Little Princess

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, May 6, 2013
Based on a popular novel from 1905, "A Little Princess" features several characters that feel familiar. In fact, you'd almost think they'd migrated in from classic musicals.
There are colorful street vendors with British accents, and pleading beggars holding out a pewter cup, there's a stingy headmistress who runs a nasty boarding school, and in that boarding school are hungry students who dream about things to eat.
"Suppose I had a crumpet and a bit of jam, a sausage and some eggs and ham… Just supposing makes it seem… And if it's not a dream…"

Reminds you of that number from "Oliver" about food, glorious food, eh? Several songs in this new show recall other famous musicals as well.

But what ultimately sets "A Little Princess" apart is that this story is rooted in a tender, if not always close, father/daughter relationship… the mother having died. This gets illuminated in a lovely duet.

"How long will it be 'til I see you again? How can I make the years fly? What part of you can I hold in my heart, long after we say our goodbye?"

The music, by composer Eric Rockwell, is one of the stronger aspects of "A Little Princess." And just about everyone in the large cast - which includes professionals and kids from the STC conservatory -- sings well. And the period costumes look great.

Alas, the story - a lacy Edwardian relic - is convoluted. And some characters embody lofty sentiments, not always convincing on stage. Keep in mind that "A Little Princess" springs from the same era as "Peter Pan." And much as Rudyard Kipling's tales of India were bestsellers in 1905, there's a wise, philosophical Indian servant in "A Little Princess" who speaks several of the show's best lines.

Even though this show trades on stock characters, the story does reach a pleasing, sincerely old-fashioned conclusion. And it's refreshing to see a new musical that doesn't come with a language advisory.
The Sacramento Theatre Company'spremiere production of "A Little Princess" continues through May 19th
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