A Little Princess by NYMT

Little Princess
A Little Princess by NYMT

NYMT’s latest production is based on the book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Those that adore the book and the film be warned there are some changes to the beloved story although this did not detract at all from my enjoyment of the musical.

In this production of A Little Princess we meet Sara, a girl born in India to a wealthy soldier turned diamond mine owner. Sara is sent to Minchin’s, a girls boarding school by her father where she is treated like a Princess. On her birthday she is told that her father has died and that his fortunes are gone and she is forced to work as a servant at Minchin’s in return for lodgings. Of course Sara continues to treat everyone with kindness and that kindness is soon repaid to her from both her friends and strangers.

Little PrincessThis new retelling of this classic story is by Carl Miller (book and lyrics) and Marc Folan (music & lyrics). I particularly enjoyed how they incorporated South Asian music and dance into the show, helping the audience understand Sara’s love of India. The dance performed in particular by Shreya Suresh, was executed and performed with style and brought an authentic feel to the show.

The ensemble numbers were particularly strong, the harmonies were rich and I must commend the young cast for delivering these beautifully and passionately. My only criticism of the music was that the numbers performed as solo’s or duets could be more memorable and lacked the punch that the ensemble numbers had.

There were some minor problems with the book as the pace changed swiftly towards the end of act 2 as the plot unfolded very quickly. However Miller created believable characters with his book and I particularly enjoyed the scenes in Minchins. Each of the principal children had their own believable personalities. I adored the way Ermengarde was written and Hattie Candler played her wonderfully. At just 12 years old she had a remarkable understanding of comedy and character parts and delivered a stand out performance.  Maya Sivagnanam took on the lead role of Sara and did so with incredible maturity. She was rarely off stage and didn’t falter, coming across as incredibly likeable instead of sickly sweet as is a danger with that character.

little princessThe children’s parts were so well written that on occasion I felt that the adults parts and relationships were glossed over a little. Florence Russell as Miss Minchin was a formidable actress however we were often simply told about her relationship with her sister rather than seeing this develop on stage.

The set was simple but used well, with a raised platform for Minchin’s office and a set of stairs and rostra on the opposite side of the stage, which became Sara’s attic bedroom, all painted in a worn down green to compliment the Minchin colours.

This was a great choice of show for NYMT as it meant that many of the company could play age appropriate roles whilst still presenting a challenge with beautifully written harmonies and numerous character roles. NYMT however rose to this challenge and delivered a touching performance of this classic story.

A Little Princess is playing until 11th August at The Other Palace with The Beautiful Game and Sleepy Hollow to follow at the same venue. To find out more about NYMT and their upcoming season visit their website. 

If you liked this review you might also like my review of Heathers, Eugenius and my write up of the Musical Theatre quiz, all at The Other Palace.

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