Every generation of children dreams of independence, which makes the story of Pippi Longstocking a timeless classic.
Eight-year-old Pippi was first brought to life through a series of books by Swedish author Astrid Lundgren, who created the freckle-faced girl with wild red pigtails and adventurous spirit.
Pippi's father is the captain of a pirate ship, so during his long sojourns at sea, Pippi is left on her own with her pet monkey Mr. Nilsson in the town of Villa Villekulla.
The best part of Pippi's life is that she doesn't have to go to school. And she always seems to have a treasure chest of gold at her disposal as she takes off on an adventure with her two best friends, siblings Tommy and Annika.
You can see more of Pippi's tales of adventure when the Academy of Children's Theatre presents the stage play Pippi Longstocking April 22-24 and 29-30 in the auditorium at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richland.
Taking on the role of Pippi will be Paige Stanco, 13, of West Richland. Tommy and Annika will be played by Killian Roberts, 12, of West Richland, and Kelsey Forman, 15, of Kennewick, respectively.
Brad Steiner portrays Capt. Longstocking, and Freja Elrod, 15, plays Mrs. Pryselius.
"Freja's heritage (Scandinavian) is from the same culture that the story of Pippi is based on," said director Julie Schroeder. "She has been very helpful in explaining the culture and helping (the actors) pronounce some of the hard words."
With a character as engaging as Pippi, choosing the right actor was no easy task, Schroeder added.
"I chose Paige for the lead because when it came to auditions, she was Pippi," she said. "And she continues to embrace the character more and more every day at rehearsals."
Paige identifies with her character, referring to Pippi's personality as both upbeat and annoying.
"I'm like that around my friends, but it's hard to be (that way) around people I don't know very well, so I have to go outside my comfort zone for her character," Paige said.
She likes Pippi's sass, but even more so she sees Pippi as living the life every kid dreams of.
"And she has amazing hair," Paige joked. "My Italian grandma used to tell me the story of Pippi because I had long hair and she used to braid it a lot. She would call me Pippi Longstocking with her Italian accent.
"I kind of forgot about the story until I heard the play was coming out. I thought Pippi would be really fun to play because she's living on her own without a family and gets to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants."
Who could ask for more?
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com