A group of local students is fulfilling the 'dreams that are wishes your heart makes.'
The Enchanted Fairytale Troupe - complete with perfected gowns, accoutrements and coiffures of popular princesses and princes - is making appearances around Warren at young girls' birthday parties, social events, fund-raisers and more.
A community service project of Warren Players, according to co-director Karin Cook, the troupe is made up of members of the Library Theatre ARTE group and of Youth Connection, a local show choir. Music and choreography are directed by Charmaine Check.
Many different theater art students make up the Fairytale Troupe
They can do almost any fairytale character, not just princes and princesses, said Check, and they can do boys' parties too. Since "Little Mermaid," the junior all-county musical, Ariel is being asked for a lot now, too.
The group is becoming very popular.
"We are busy constantly," said Check, who coordinates costumes, booking, schedules and scripts.
The group performs at least once a month. They prepare for each event, dress to perfection then offer a program of individual presentations by each "princess," complete with prince escort. The Fairy Godmother magically appears to "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" and introduces the group. Snow White gives the birthday girl an apple, hoping "all her wishes will come true," and Cinderella, Mulan, Pocahontas and other princesses make similar presentations.
Generally the group includes a prince or two. Luke Wortman plays Prince Charming.
"I enjoy being part of the Fairytale Troupe because it allows me to crack smiles (and) bring joy by sharing my love for fantasy and imagination," Luke said.
"My first time doing the Fairytale Troupe was for a Relay For Life luncheon, and I was Prince Charming," Luke said. "After singing some classic songs, I could tell these little girls and boys needed more things like this in their lives. I knew that when we were there they were taken to a fantasy land where they were all princesses and princes, and it was just awesome to think of that."
At Relay for Life, when a young girl lost her shoe, and he asked if he could help her "see if the slipper fit." The girl was mesmerized.
After the Warren Players' performance of Cinderella last year, a little girl tugged on the ballgown of Cinderella (aka Abby Koebley) and said "Can you come to my birthday party?"
Abby said "I'm not sure I can make it. I will have to check my castle calendar ..."
Her mother saw the ad in the program and booked the troupe.
"When we arrived at the party," Check said, "Abby remembered the little girl from the show. When she presented her gift she said to the little girl 'remember at the theater when you invited me to your party? Well, I found I could make it AND brought some of my friends along to help celebrate your birthday.' The look on the little girl's face was amazing."
At the culmination of their individual appearances, the prince and princess group sings a medley.
By now, all the girls in the room - generally age 4 to 6 - are wide-eyed and open-mouthed, seeing in person the princesses they emulate from books, movies and TV.
For girls' birthday parties, Check tells parents to make the troupe's appearance a surprise, and to encourage the girls attending to dress up in their own princess dresses, making an amazing experience for a young girl.
Check also thinks the troupe is amazing.
"They (are a) princess all the time," she said, they "stay in character all the time."
Mayan Cook, junior liaison and youth coordinator for Warren Players, usually performs the role of Belle for the troupe.
She enjoys "being a part of the Fairytale Troupe because it's a joy to be able to be a part of something so special that is offered here in the community," Mayan explained. "One of the things that was a part of your childhood is wanting to be a prince or a princess, and this troupe is making those dreams come true."
Mayan likes the troupe especially because "every single time you walk into the parties the children's faces light up with amazement and they get so excited to see their favorite princess or character," she said. "It's priceless and it makes you feel spectacular about being able to make them so happy."
Taylor John agrees.
"It's fun dressing up with a bunch of people who love singing, acting, and princesses as much as you do," she said. She generally dresses as Jasmine for the troupe performances.
"Our last event was at the Relay For Life fundraiser," Taylor said, "and there were so many kids there that were just enchanted at the sight of a real life princess. It was just adorable."
The troupe - along with ARTE, ARTE Jr., Jack-in-the Box Players and Youth Connection - is just a small example of what local kids can do, Cook explained.
As outreach coordinator for Warren Players and co-director for the troupe, Cook would like to see the youths "doing more community events so people can see what a wonderful group of talented youth we have, and what Warren Players has to offer to this community for our children with Jack in the Box productions and other groups, Youth Connection, ARTE, all housed under the Struthers Library Theatre," she said. "I believe these kids are truly a blessing to Warren Players and our community."
The troupe is available for songs, stories and photo opportunities, too.
As one mother said, "This is like taking them to Disneyworld, only cheaper," Check shared.
For more information about the troupe and other characters they can portray, call Check at 726-1877.