Stephenson Tales


Soon after we got to Kent, Bill Zucchero and his wife Nancy did a production of PETER PAN. Evelyn wanted to try out, of course, and to our delight, Toni said she wanted to try out too. For tryouts, of course, one has to read dialogue, and, for a musical dance and sing. Toni was too little to read, but she had been in several plays already so the directors knew what she could do with spoken lines. Nancy had all the girls who were trying out do a little improvised movement routine, to see how graceful, flexible and competent they were. Toni did the dance perfectly from the first attempt--much to the chagrin of some of the college girls. Then Nancy asked her if she could sing something. Toni said, "Sure"-- and sang every verse of "Holy, holy, holy" the hymn which she had heard Lucy Chase sing many times. That is probably the only time in the history of the theater that that piece of music was used as the tryout selection for a broadway-type musical production. At the end of the tryout, Nancy said to Lucy Chase, "Well, I don't know what college girls I am going to use, but I know of one three year old who is going to be cast." ToniShe and Evie both played Indians--and a role was created especially for Toni: "Wee Willow." When the Indians made their entrance, fearing an invasion by the pirates all the girls came in crouched over or on their knees--and Toni brought up the rear, walking backward, scanning the horizon behind the line of Indians. She, of course, was standing upright and was exactly the same height as all the others. Lucy Chase gave a party for the cast. Toni was a little apprehensive about that, and confessed to her mamma: "I know the Indians are pretend, because I'm an Indian--but I'm not so sure about those pirates!" It was from this production that we got the title of one of our best children's plays "My Own Private Pirate." Bill Zucchero had Toni capture the biggest of the pirates--Peter Ferry--who was about six feet four. She pounded on his knee with her tomahawk while he cringed from her. During one scene when the pirates and the indians had a skirmish, Bill put Toni up on a rock to be apart from the rather violent (and dangerous) action of the conflict. Toni was very upset as she wanted to be a part of the fight. Bill told her that she had the most important job of "lookout" from the top of the rock to see that no more pirates were coming to join the fight. This satisfied her. She looked earnestly in every direction her whole little body tense with excitement.

© Jim Bob Stephenson 1992

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