all for One Brings The Princess & the Goblin to Life at ArtsLab
Each one of us has a treasured book from our childhood. Even as we grow up and go on to have families of our own, those books continue to inform our thoughts and generate warm, nostalgic feelings for the rest of our lives. Not surprisingly, Lauren Nichols, artistic director of all for One productions, has just such a book, and given her tendency to stage literary classics in the all for One seasons, it’s also not surprising that she would bring her own favorite, The Princess and the Goblin, to the stage again this spring.
“It was a favorite book of mine since childhood, and I always had in the back of my mind that I’d love to stage it,” Nichols said. “I found this lovely adaptation about 10 years ago, and we first staged it in 2014. It’s funny because when we first did it my [granddaughter] Lucy was three years old, and I thought the next time we did it, she’d be old enough to play the princess. Instead she wanted to play a goblin and a door! She’s a little more of a theatre kid than some of the others, and [husband] Dennis is playing Sir Walter so she gets to work with Papa.”
Many of the aspects of The Princess and the Goblin which attracted Nichols to the book are the very things that draw young readers to some of the classics which remain cherished by generations.
“There are two things that really intrigued me as a kid,” Nichols said. “It was what I loved about Secret Garden – big rooms for exploring, house passageways that lead to long halls. And it was a story of a lonely child, and I was always a lonely kid, too. There’s this wonderful great-grandmother who gives Irene a ring with a thread, and she puts the ring under a pillow and tells her to follow the thread wherever it leads you. It’s a story of faith and trust.”
Nichols has more than fond memories of the story. She also has fond memories of acquiring that first copy of The Princess and the Goblin.
all for One artistic director Lauren Nichols
“I got it from this tiny little nun who was a librarian in my elementary school,” she said. “It may be she was clearing out older copies of books. But she gave me this very specific copy, and it had these wonderful woodcut illustrations. I loved it and found the goblin more silly than scary. Then my boys both loved it. It was one of the first chapter books they read. And now Lucy loves it, and this show has been the first one that the three of us have worked on together since The Wind and the Willows three years ago.”
This season all for One has been able to return to their home venue at the Auer Center ArtsLab which had been off-limits during the pandemic precautions. She’s happy to have the opportunity to use the alley-style setting of the intimate and versatile stage options, and Nichols is delighted by the work her choreographer and costumer have done. She is also particularly proud of the music which will accompany the story.
“Of all of the creative collaborations, I’m especially proud of my piano student, Tori Cwanek,” she said. “This is the fourth time she’s worked on a show with me, but this is the first time she’s recorded the music herself. I brought a keyboard to the office, and she came multiple times to record it. She’s a senior this year and wants to go into music production. Her younger sister Allison is our dance captain so this has been a wonderful growth experience for both of them.”
With a cast of 17, which Nichols said is “an army for us,” and leads who are 14-15 years old, The Princess and the Goblin has been a growth experience for many who are part of the family-friendly production. The show runs two weekends – April 22-May 1 – with evening performances and Sunday matinees. The second Saturday will also include a sensory-friendly performance, a first for all for One. To purchase tickets to any of the performances, visit artstix.org.