When A Little Princess director Jessica Scruggs asked her cast to describe the play in one word, the most resounding word was hope.
“This is a timeless classic that is not your average princess story,” said Scruggs.
Scruggs grew up watching the film version starring Shirley Temple with her grandmother. “I have an emotional connection to the show,” she said.
So when asked to direct, she felt it must be fate that finally brought her to the Patel Conservatory.
This is her first show with the Conservatory. A native of New York City, she moved to Tampa last year when her husband accepted a job here.
A longtime performer, director and choreographer, she had her first acting role when she was seven years old on Sesame Street.
“After that, I decided, I’m going to be an actress. There was no question,” she said.
Scruggs attended the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City, then received a B.A. in theatre arts from the State University of New York at New Paltz. Her television credits include 30 Rock, AMC’s Rubicon and One Life to Live and her theater experience ranges from Off-Broadway to independent theater festivals.
She is currently the director of musical theater at Blake High School.
“I like working at Blake and the Patel Conservatory because the kids take it seriously,” said Scruggs.
A Little Princess is a musical that tells the story of Sara Crewe, a little girl with a big imagination. To Sara, everyone at Miss Minchin's boarding school is a story: cold Miss Minchin; her timid sister, Miss Amelia; pupils such as spiteful Lavinia or plodding Ermengarde. Imagination sustains Sara when she is orphaned and banished to the attic.
“It’s a really challenging play because it was written for adults actors. But the students have risen to the occasion. The kids in the show are all very passionate about the story they are telling. It’s very genuine,” said Scruggs.
Ultimately, the play lets kids know that anyone can be a princess, even if they are going through hard times, as long as they are kind to others.
“That’s what really resonates with me about this story. It is full of hope.”
A Little Princess plays Nov. 14 through Nov. 23, 2013. For tickets, click here.