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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

It's great being girl playing boy in 'Alexander'

Among the cast of "Alexander" are, from left, Bulldog, Elitei Tatafu, Cynthia See, Reb Beau Allen, Nara Cardenas and Clara Dalzell.

Brad Goda

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

To play the title character in the Honolulu Theatre for Youth's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day," premiering Saturday at Leeward Community College Theatre, Clara Dalzell had to generate "attitude."

"I have short hair, and everyone told me I make a cute boy," said Dalzell, 17 going on 18, a recent Castle High School graduate. "But it's harder than it looks to play a boy. I cannot use my hips at all. I have to try to put a little boy attitude in, because Alexander is 6. I can use my regular voice, since little boys have higher pitches, too."

'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day'

A musical by Judith Viorst and Shelley Markham

1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday; repeats 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sept. 14, 21 and Oct. 6

Leeward Community College Theatre

$12 general, $6 ages 3-18 and older than 60; free for kids 2 or younger


"Attitude," in her book, means leaning forward when she walks — and working in kind of a boyish stomp.

She also had to tape her chest with Ace bandages for obvious reasons.

"I'm flat anyway, but thank goodness for Ace," she said.

Otherwise, playing a child means letting go on stage.

"The adults will know I'm a girl but some of the young kids may not," she said.

She gets to sing — the show is a musical, after all — and she doesn't mind the harassment faced by Alexander that makes his day pretty awful.

"He wakes up with gum in his hair; his brothers beat him up; he doesn't get the sneakers he wants; he has lima beans for dinner; there's kissing on TV; his foot gets caught in the elevator door; he has no breakfast cereal prize. Everything that could possibly go wrong does," she said.

Dalzell, who starts classes at Windward Community College Monday, was lucky to sign up for sessions that are in the afternoon and evening, because HTY starts its fall daytime performances for school audiences on Monday, too.

She said she's destined for a stage career.

"This is what I'm going to do," she said. The HTY gig is part of a student internship. Then again, she's lived in a show-biz climate since she was a toddler. "I did my first commercial before I could walk," she said.

Earlier this summer, she co-starred with her brother, Duncan, in Manoa Valley Theatre's "The Cripple of Inishmaan," which her mom, Karen Archibald, designed and her dad, Shell Dalzell, tech-directed.

"Being on stage sets me free," said Dalzell. "It puts me in my own world. And I love the feel from the audience, and the audience response. But in the end, I do it for myself."