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THEATER : S.D. Repertory Theatre's 'Tiniest Tim' Is an Acting Veteran at the Age of Six

December 25, 1987|NANCY CHURNIN

Tiny Tim showed up for the interview in a pink skirt, white textured tights, blue Maryjanes and a powder blue turtleneck, looking remarkably like a pretty, dark-eyed, curly-headed little girl.

Which is just what the lightly freckled 6-year-old Lily Estrada is.

The daughter of actress JoAnn Reeves, who also plays Tim's mother, Mrs. Cratchit, in the San Diego Repertory Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" plying through Sunday, the diminutive Lily may be what Times critic Sylvie Drake called "the tiniest Tim in memory." But even at barely 6 (her birthday was Nov. 23), the first-grader is a veteran, having played the part two years before for the Rep at their Sixth Avenue Playhouse.

And she acts like a veteran, proudly miming how she puts on her own show makeup which includes base, powder, eyeliner and lipstick, practicing her songs at home until her mother said that even she puts her hands over her ears, and memorizing not only her lines but those that precede hers, whispering conspiratorially, "I never dropped one line and Scrooge (played by Tavis Ross) has. I tell him after the show."

In fact, the only way in which she doesn't resemble a professional is in her utter lack of regard for her interviewer, to whom she freely confesses her boredom with the questions, periodically slipping down in her chair and jumping up when she sees another actor pass by in the hall of the theater, asking her mother eagerly, "Is it time to go to the dressing room yet?"

Not yet, Reeves explained, reminding her that they have just come from school and it is only a little after 3 p.m.

Lily sighed, saying she'd much rather "go home, pet the cat--Chubby--eat Hershey's kisses . . . and watch TV. I like She-Ra, and Barbie and the Rockers." Then, like the trouper she is, she consents to sit still just a little bit longer.

How did she happen to get involved in the show?

"I wanted to, and my Mom let me."

Actually Reeves said she was delighted when Lily's audition got her the part because she wouldn't have to leave her to go to work. "It's better than day care."

Has Lily done any other shows?

She was in "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" at Grant Elementary in Mission Hills. "I played the little bear."

What is the hardest part in "A Christmas Carol"? "Holding the turkey (in her other part as the turkey boy). It's heavy."

Does she want to act with her mother again?

That turns out to be one of Lily's dreams. Along with making "a lot of money. And living in a hotel with a swimming pool in the middle."

Lily's next appearance will be as Miss Irishtocrat in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, March 17. She comes by her Irishness on Reeves' side; her father, Jorge Estrada, is Mexican. As for her daughter's forceful personality, Reeves speculated that she must have been royalty in a former life.

As an example, Reeves reported that when a friend offered her silver-gray convertible Mercedes for Lily and her assigned companion, Marty Emerald, a Channel 10 newscaster, to ride in, Lily's responses were "I'd like to see the car" and "I'd like to see what else is available."

"Will you wave at me?" her mother asked. Lily gave her mother an exasperated look.

"I'm supposed to wave at you. It's my job."

Reeves smiled. If that's the case, she knows she can count on that wave.

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