She is strong, high-spirited and unconventional. She can beat up robbers with her unimaginable strength, has unlimited wealth and is a rebel who refuses to conform to society. With her outlandish clothing and legendary orange pigtails, the story of the infamous Swedish tween Pippi Longstocking has lasted generations.
Pippi's adventures have been in movies and animation, and on television and the stage. Local audiences will experience the freckled-face rebel's story when it comes to life next weekend in the Stage West Community Playhouse children's production of Pippi Longstocking.
In this story, Pippi moves back to her house, Villa Villekulla. She is alone, as her mother has died and her father, a pirate, has been shipwrecked. Along with her next-door neighbors, Tommy and Annika, she becomes involved in funny adventures — and misadventures — that will have people of all ages giggling.
"It is the classic Pippi story," said director Misty Hornsby. "Raised by pirates, she really doesn't know how to behave proper in public."
The role of Pippi has been double-cast with two local 9-year-olds, Elizabeth Kessel and Laney Windlan.
Hornsby said that when Elizabeth first auditioned, she was the image of Pippi, with red hair and freckles. "And Elizabeth just knew who Pippi was."
A day later, when Laney auditioned, her look struck Hornsby to be more like Annika. But despite the blond hair, Laney proved to be a perfect Pippi. "There was something spunky about Laney," Hornsby said. "She had the Pippi attitude."
Other cast members include: Alexandra Allocco as the teacher, Antonia Matos as Annika Settergren, Lorenzo Guarino as Tommy Settergren, Liarisah Luiz-Baxter as Mrs. Settergren, Ella Windlan Thunder as Mrs. Prysselius, Rylie Nelson as Victoria Rooney Bloom, Rhea Rose Whitaker as the carnival manager, Emma Chenoweth as the toy vendor, Emily Gembicki-Martins as the candy vendor, Wyatt Washington as the Mighty Adolph, Anthony Aulicino as Officer Klang, McKinnley Nelson as Officer Larsson, Reed Washington as Capt. Ephraim Longstocking, Stephanie Bishop as Angel Mama, Abigail Barron as Mrs. Granberg, Savannah Smith as a sailor, Alannah Allocco as Nicole and Isabel Huddleson and Christa Luiz-Baxter as school girls.
The audience will be treated to musical numbers such as You Never Know Where You Might Be Tomorrow and Who Can Sail Without the Wind? as well as one song sung entirely in Swedish, Janta a Ja.
"None of the songs are familiar," said Myndee Washington, musical director. "It was a bit daunting, as most songs were written in Swedish, in four-part harmony. There was a lot of stripping and translating."
But Washington said the youth were up to the challenge. "These kids are incredibly capable," she said. "They are just as professional as adults, if not more."