Through the Eyes of a Child: "The Princess and the Pea"

By Mandy Boyle
Advertising Sales Manager/Entertainment Editor

When you need to see the world through the eyes of a child, sometimes all you need to do is take a walk down to the Performing Arts Center at the edge of our university’s campus. For many years, it has been a tradition for the Marywood Theatre Department to put on a show for local children that makes the experience of attending a play come alive. That experience is called Children’s Theatre. On April 22, 23, 24, and 25, the Marywood Theatre Department will make a classic fairy tale come to life through the eyes of a child with their presentation of “The Princess and the Pea” by Paul Lavraka. Trust me – you won’t want to miss this classic fairy tale with a twist.

The story focuses on Princess Astrid, who has been lured from her home by Gustav the Troll as a bride for Prince Eric, who is the son of King Olaf and Queen Ulrika. Although Astrid has no interest in marriage, she agrees to take a series of tests to prove that she is a “real princess” – just like the fairy tale. Unfortunately for Osric, a meddling courtier trying to stop the marriage, Astrid and Eric are drawn to each other; but it’s not until the final challenge that we find out if there’s going to be a happy ending to this tale.

“The best part about Children’s Theatre is seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and knowing you are making a difference in their life and a lasting memory in their heart,” said Hannah Botsford, who plays Queen Ulrika in the production. “It’s definitely worth the high physical demands and energy we put in.”

Actors in the production began their preparations in late March and have since been working on maintaining that high energy and dynamic personality that draws the children in to each and every performance. However, it’s not just the actors that need to prepare for the production. The audience has to also.

“The children come from schools all around NEPA,” said Liz Smith, the production’s Stage Manager. “We send out an educational packet to them to help prepare. It includes a recording of the original song for the year, a summary of the story, and activities that they can do in class. This helps them learn the song before they come so they can participate in the show too.”

The singing and audience participation are just two of the elements that make the production so engaging. Factor in the marvelous sets, fabulous talent, and colorful costumes and you’ve got a production that could make any story come to life.

Becky Lighthizer, a student in the Musical Theatre program, will be costume designing the show.

“Even though it’s quite a heavy task to take on, it’s a blast to do,” said Lighthizer of the costuming experience. “For Children’s Theatre, the costumes are always big, colorful, and over the top – usually to keep the kids’ attention and make them laugh. As designer, Dr. Merchel really let me take the reins and allowed me full creative freedom with my designs.”

So let’s see – bright costumes, audience participation, and a fantastic cast of colorful characters. What’s not to like? Children’s Theatre is an excellent experience no matter what your age. Whether you’re young or just young at heart, the production promises to be an entertaining and engaging performance that’s sure to make you remember how much fun it was to be a kid.

Actor Nathan Bradley, who will be playing Prince Eric, describes it best:

“The best part about it for me is how free you are to have fun.”

To have some fun of your own and take part in the magic that is Children’s Theatre; contact the Marywood Box Office for more information. Tickets are free with Marywood ID or $4 at the door with performances on April 22 and 23 at 10:00 AM, April 24 at 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM, and April 25 at 11:00 AM.