Stephenson Tales

Junior High Robin Wows College Kids
The Littlest (and Youngest) Fairy Queen

Because I was on the faculty at The National Music Camp, our children Lucky, John, Evie, and Robin were allowed as "day campers" to take classes at the Camp. Thanks to the generosity of Lucy Chase's parents, Robin was the first one to go as a full time camper, and after a kind of rocky start, as she missed her family very much, she soon fit right in and made new friends and got cast in Dude's cut-down version of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe as the Fairy Queen. And she was great, just as John had been a success as the Duke of Plaza Toro, in a similarly cut-down version of The Gondoliers for Intermediates. Being a very "quick study", and having that phenomenal memory, she learned not only her cut-down role, but the entire script.

As luck would have it, in the fall, Dr. James Stuart chose to do Iolanthe at Kent State and asked me to direct (which himself playing the leading role of the Lord High Chancellor, of course). In the role of the Fairy Queen he cast an elderly, portly, past-her-prime teacher of voice named Irene Beamer. Unfortunately the lady was not in good health and began missing rehearsals. Robin always came along with me to rehearsals, as I had cast her in the role of one of the Chorus of Fairies. The first time Madame Beamer missed a rehearsal, I told Jim that my little girl knew the role. He was incredulous, so I told him the story of the Intermediate version at the Music Camp in which she had played the role of the Fairy Queen. Now Robin had not told anyone in the University cast that she knew the show. I told Jim she could step in and rehearse the role, just to keep the rehearsal intact. He was very dubious, but called her to step out of the chorus and do the part. The University students were open-mouthed with astonishment to say the least–Here was this little kid who not only already knew all the lines, but all the music–and she COULD SING!!! So for the entire period of the six or seven weeks of rehearsals, Robin played the role more often than did the lady who was cast. The University kids were not only amazed, but were put on their best behavior to get up to her level of assurance and sincerity of characterization and interpretation–EVEN IN REHEARSAL–as she had been taught to do by Old Dad. As the performance dates drew nigh, the elderly lady (I suspect because she knew she could be replaced) got better and better and actually DID play the role. I must be honest, however, and report that she did not do it very well–probably because of lack of rehearsal. But I was never more proud of Robin!

Robin's Note: In the National Music Camp production I was in VERY high heels and wore a HUGE (and heavy) metal crown that stood up nearly a foot above my head. As a result, I appeared to tower over nearly everyone else on the stage, even though my height was at or below most of the people in the cast. When Dr. Stuart called me out from the chorus to stand in for Irene Beamer, I was nervous. I was the next-to-shortest person in the Chorus of Fairies, so nearly everyone on stage was considerably taller (not to mention older) than I. So as I stepped forward from my next-to-last-place in the line-up of fairies to stand in for The Queen, in my mind I again donned those ridiculously high heels and that incredibly heavy and high crown, and I felt myself grow at least two feet in height in my mind. The result was that in spite of the fact that I was actually looking up at everyone, one of the other girls in the chorus told me she felt like I was looking DOWN on everyone - including Dr. Stuart himself in the role of the Lord High Chancellor, particularly right before the Queen gets angry with him and curses him. She said I positively GREW during that scene. It was quite a thrill.

Composed 22 September 2009; Transcribed by Robin

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2009

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