Big dreams in Walnut

Olivia Sazama, who plays Nellie Oleson in this year’s “Fragments of a Dream” pageant, falls into the watering hole as part of a scene she and her fellow actors rehearsed at last week’s Media Night leading up to this year’s pageant. Photos / Per Peterson

From a 4-year-old to a 45-year veteran, actors are gearing up for the 45th ‘Fragments of a Dream’ pageant

By Per Peterson

Olivia Sazama is a self-proclaimed sweetheart, but that doesn’t mean she can’t turn into a mean girl when called upon.

Sazama is an 8-year-old from Tracy. By all appearances, the little girl is an innocent child with a warm smile and even warmer demeanor. But don’t let those looks deceive you. When it comes to playing the infamous Nellie Oleson in next month’s “Fragments of a Dream” Pageant, Sazama has shown a knack for flipping her personality.

“I personally don’t really like how Nellie acts, but at the same time it’s kind of fun doing it,” she said. “I don’t really like it, ‘cause I’m a sweetheart, but I can do it.”

Sazama will be taking part in her fourth pageant and is assuming her biggest role at the same time. She played Carrie Ingalls in 2021.

“I can’t wait to actually do the show, because it’s gonna be fun,” said Sazama, who is joined at this year’s pageant by her 4-year-old sister, Amelia, who is making her pageant debut as Anna Nelson. “I’ve never had this many lines. It’s kind of hard to learn them, but it’s fun because there’s new people, and you can make new friends. But I’m always nervous, because whenever you’re in a scene and you’re like the main character in that scene, everybody’s just staring at you.”

Eleven-year-old Messina Lessman of Jackson is portraying Laura for the second straight year. She said having one year of playing Laura under her belt makes it easier to prepare for this year’s performance. But she admits, that doesn’t take away all the butterflies.

“It’s been pretty easy since I’ve been in it for seven years,” Lessman said. “The blocking is all the same, and I kind of know all the lines of the pageant, so it’s more about getting the nerves out before I start. Always in the first show I get a little nervous.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.