Once again Gulfport Little Theatre has done its part to make the summer memorable for a group of young people, under the direction of Mrs. Allen Evans, who directed “Wind in the Willows” last year nearly forty youngsters produced a play in the Chinese manner.
It is the custom of Little Theatre to use children from six through sixteen in their plays. Occasionally an exception is made to this rule and this was done this summer when Lanee Kent, capable and charming assistant to the director was given a part in the play. As the stage manager the most important person in any Chinese drama she ruled supreme over her two property boys Griffin Bland, Jr. and Duncan Crawford, who moved property pieces and changed sets with truly Oriental finesse.
Dressed all in black, which the stage manager explained made them invisible, the two boys were given a great deal of responsibility for the success of the play. Equally responsible was Little Moon herself, smart daughter of an impoverished farmer, who had never had a son and was very tired of trying to remember girls’ names.
Little Moon was Jeannie Shows, who had an important part in the 1966 play, “Wind in the Willows.” Jeannie showed a poise and flair far beyond her years and was the truly helpful child of an otherwise helpless pair of parents. Rusty Sumrall played the father, and played him with authority. Susan Elam was a timid, fearful mother given to fainting when faced with trouble, but ready to fight to defend her girls, Sheree Starr was a peppy old grandmother outspoken and amusing.
The other daughters Camilla, Lilly, Orchid, Rosebud and Daffodil were very well played by Lynn Roberts, Elizabeth Gates, Debbie Shows, Andi Acree and Lucy Rishel. Lucy’s elder brother, Larry, was the dancing tutor, a man who knew just how to handle ticklish situations. And he needed to know, for the rich man who employed him, Lee Wang, Scott Crawford’s assignment in this play, was short-tempered and demanding. Scott played the part to the hilt, and never stepped out of character. Lady Silver Song, his charming wife is Jean Dell Alfonso in real life, a very talented young lady who will be seen often on many stages, so genuine is her talent.
Jade, their daughter, was played by a newcomer to the Junior Division, Mary Christel Puissegur. Her clear voice and excellent projection made her a natural for the part, and like many another successful actress she was easy to look at, too.
The pantomime scene in which Little Moon’s plot to get jobs for her eligible sisters was outlined was cleverly played by Little Moon and Rosebud, Andi Acree, Lilly, Elizabeth Gates, Camilla, Lynn Roberts. The wicked servant, Fragrant Apple, who caused all the trouble for the four girls was Garnet Quarles, clear-spoken and sure of herself in all scenes.
The other servants, Plum, Emily Gauthe, Peach, Patricia Danne Miller, and Pear, Karen Ladner had all been in service long enough to earn the honor of having their names on their backs in colorful pictures. But First Servant, Donna Ladner and Second Servant, Don Barkly had only numbers on the backs of their identical jackets. Rebecca Glascock was an indignant cook, boss of her own kitchen and anxious to be the best cook in the land.
A charming seamstress and later a lady shopper, Virginia Simpkins looked exactly like an animated Chinese doll. Carol Lee Cunningham was pretty as one of her own flowers as she tried to sell baskets and flowers to passer by – only the best baskets “made in Japan”. Scott Roberts had a hug boa-constructor-type-snake in his yellow yellow basket, and piped him up whenever the action required. Douglas Bell, cute as a button, a jet button, in his black satin togs tried to sell silks to the rich men and found him hard to please.
Susan Boyette sold festival lanterns, and Scott Simmons set himself up in business downstage left as a sell of duck eggs. Young Cameron Crawford, grandson of famed author-actor-director- Elliott Nugent, made his first appearance on any stage as a rickshaw coolie, plaintively unsuccessful in his line of work. Two lovely little girls Margie and Judy Putnam did a butterfly dance which was dainty as its name, and three tumblers trained by Mr. and Mrs. McConnell were Coy Hosch, Marcia Dubuisson and Susie McConnell.
Jay Bailey was the boy who pretended to be naughty and hard-boiled, and who said girls were dumb, but went out of his was to take care of them. Jay was in last year’s play as a jailer, this year he made the most of his comedy part.
Backstage there were a number of young people without whom there would have been no play. Lucy Turner, Gail Bailey, Gil Bailey, Patty Woodsworth, Becky Woodworth, Chris Elam, Chris Evans, Joan Glascock, Kathy Singleton, and that youngest helper of them all, Mrs. James H. Baxley. Ruth Ann Pecoul was choreographer, and sets and costumes were designed by Frances Gordon, and made by many mothers and some friends.
The Dixie Guide, Page 6, August 1967