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Children's book 'The Little Princess' gets a new life in stage shows this weekend's and next

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'A Little Princess'

What: Local theater group all for One productions presents “A Little Princess,” which Artistic Director Lauren Nichols adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett's book.
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and March 1-2; 2:30 p.m. Sunday and March 3.
Where: Allen County Public Library auditorium, 900 Library Plaza.
Cost: Through Thursday: $12 adults, $10 seniors, $8 students and per person in groups of 10 or more. At door: $15 adults, $12 seniors, $10 pupils.
Contact: 622-4610 or

Help Charis House

Donations for homeless women and children at Charis House will be collected at each performance of “A Little Princess.” Items needed:
•Baby products: lotion, baby wash, powder, kids' shampoo
•Hygiene products: body wash, hypoallergenic bar soap (Dove), deodorants, shampoo/conditioner, hand/body lotions
•Multivitamins for children and adults, calcium and Vitamin C

Local 10-year-old wrote some of the music

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 12:51 pm

In a unique combination, a local playwright and her piano student breathe life into a classic children's book that all for One productions will bring to the stage this weekend and next in Allen County Public Library's auditorium.

Lauren E. Nichols, artistic director at all for One productions, chose to adapt “A Little Princess” because of her love of the book and her lack of finding an adaptation that was faithful to it.

“I've read the book more times than I can count,” she said.

Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's book of the same title, the play focuses on Sara Crewe, a rich girl who becomes an attic-dwelling servant when her father loses all his money.

Nichols has written plays for 20 years, and spent most of 2012 working on the adaptation that will be guest-directed by Lisa Ellis.

Nichols also said she does her own sound design because of her experience as a piano teacher.

It was in her role as piano teacher when she found the answer to some of the incidental music that will be featured in the play.

Audiences will hear incidental music at the beginning of the play, when there are scene changes, when the lights go down and at the end of the play.

Torilinn Cwanek, now 10, was age 9 when she composed three of the music pieces. Torilinn has played piano for almost four years.

“I got really excited,” she said, when she heard her music would be featured in the play for which she also auditioned but did not land a role. “I didn't write them specifically for the play.”

Torilinn, who has written about six compositions within the last couple of years, said she doesn't name her musical creations, but she did for “A Little Princess.” The audience will hear “Sara's Theme,” “Tension” and “Thinking of You.”

“Her compositions will grow as she continues to grow and her skills continue to advance,” mom Catharine Cwanek said.

Torilinn, who is a home-schooled fourth-grader, practices piano at least 30 minutes daily, but continues to practice in an undirected manner for another 10 minutes. Her interests include horses, reading, drawing, writing and living-history re-enactments, and she has a notebook of inventions.

“I play make-believe,” Torilinn said. “Sometimes I'm staring into space writing as I see it in my head. I'm the narrator (and), at the same time, I'm the characters themselves.”

The “Little Princess” production also benefits Charis House, a shelter for women and children.

“A Little Princess” is rated G for all audiences.