When Sara Crewe is living a life of luxury as one of the wealthiest young ladies ever to enroll at Miss Minchin's Boarding School, she is sweet and kind.
She is quite pampered, but in no way is she spoiled. In no way does she have an attitude, said Sarah Perlin, who is directing the musical The Little Princess for the Pennsylvania Theatre of Performing Arts in Hazleton this weekend.
As proof of her basic goodness, the title character, played by Abby Pazdon, retains her pleasant disposition even when she's plunged into poverty, has to give up her pretty clothes and dolls and ends up working as a servant and living in the attic at Miss Minchin's.
She goes from having everything she could have wanted to having nothing in the world, but still being OK with her situation in life, Perlin said. She's not bitter.
Young Sara does have to work hard at the boarding school. In fact, she's so tired at the end of the day, she doesn't even notice at first when mysterious presents begin to appear in her sleeping quarters.
Who brings them? Apparently, some nimble servants from a neighboring household are traveling back and forth from one attic to another.
They do step in through a narrow window, Perlin said, describing part of the set. It's quite a stretch for someone wearing a dress.
The musical offers several opportunities for young thespians, especially for the girls who portray Miss Minchin's boarding-school students. To find some roles for boys, Perlin used her imagination.
One of the kids wanted to be a hobo. I have him walking around in ragged clothes and being a pickpocket in a street scene. Another boy is a well-do-to son of a well-to-do man in a street scene.
As for the schoolgirls, Perlin said, Each of them has a different personality. One girl is very nasty. She's Lavinia, played by Emily Sevatch. There's one girl who's not very bright, Ermengarde. She's played by Lindsey Walko. There's one girl who thinks everything's funny. She's Jessie, played by Sam Legg. Then there's the little one, Lottie. She's played by Molly Maguschak.
Some audience members may have seen The Little Princess as a 1939 movie starring Shirley Temple. Actually, Perlin said, the stage play has more in common with the original book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, titled Sara Crewe, or What Happened at Miss Minchin's.
In keeping with the Victorian-England setting of the musical, PTPA's all-you-can-eat dinner buffet this weekend will include such traditional British dishes as bangers and mash, mushroom-and-onion pie and a fruit trifle along with American-style food and desserts.
What: ‘A Little Princess'
Who: Pennsylvania Theatre for Performing Arts
Where: JJ Ferrara Center, 212 W. Broad St., Hazleton
When: 7 tonight and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Dinner is served 90 minutes before each performance.