We asked a few cast members to describe Princess Academy in one word. Their answers included Self-Discovery, Believe, Self Worth, Purpose, Fearless, Caring, Strength, Love, and Confidence.
These words are right in line with the hopes that Shannon Hale expressed in the question and answer session after opening night. Fighting back tears she said that if there’s one thing she hopes people take away from this book, it is that teenage girls are awesome! “Teenage girls are fierce and strong and smart and clever and they do so much. The things they have to face are so hard and they just come out of it so amazing. I know how hard it is, because we’ve been through it …and you’re amazing,” she said.
Maggie Scott, who plays the lead role of Miri, said, “One of the universal truths I see in this show is that everyone has strength inside them. Throughout the whole show, Miri is trying to prove that she is strong, despite her small stature. Everyone shows strength differently- Miri is smart and dependable, Britta is kind and fiercely loving, Frid is physically strong and brave, Katar is hard working and ambitious. In real life, everyone has strength inside them, too. We all show it in different ways, but it’s there, and once we find it, we can do anything.”
So we interviewed a few these amazing girls and got their insight on this timeless production of Princess Academy.
How does it feel to be in the first version of this beautiful musical?
Maggie Scott (Miri): It’s definitely a challenge, trying to build a character without anyone to base it on. But at the same time it’s freeing. It’s incredible to have the liberty to make Miri how I see her. And it’s very nice to have the book as a guideline. I go back to it all the time to find fun moments or thoughts that I can put into the show. It’s just so amazing!
Abilene Kugler (Frid): I hope I can do this funny, yet real character, justice. People see certain images in their head when they read a book and the opportunity to breathe life into this character is intimidating, yet exciting.
What do you hope the audience will gain from coming to this show?
Lydia Butler (Britta): I hope that people feel confident to go after their dreams and that they have the power inside them to make their dreams come true. The universal theme from this play would be “Learning to love yourself for who are and then take that love and make a difference!”
Elizabeth Brown (Esa): I hope the audience learns from this story that there is no unfavorable situation that can’t be changed if you have the courage to face your fears and doubts.
Baylee Reid (Katar): You should listen to your inner voice, have acceptance towards others and you can still be happy no matter what circumstances you’re in. Choose to stay strong.
Breanna Arsenault (Gerti): I hope people see the message to “be yourself.”
Maggie (Miri): I hope the audience realizes that this is a beautiful, interesting story with so much heart. Sometimes people think, just because it’s about princesses, it won’t be anything new. But this show is so much more than a princess story- it’s about love, family, home, and growing into yourself.
Abilene (Frid): Friendships can be made no matter who you or they are. Similar to the lowlander Britta and the rest of the academy girls, I believe that prejudices can be broken when you see someone for who they truly are.
What are your favorite qualities about the character you play?
Maggie (Miri): I love a lot of things about Miri. I think I am a lot like her in many ways, which makes it very fun to get to play her. I love how strong she is. Through the show, she is trying to prove that she is strong and can be useful, and she proves that so profoundly by being a leader and standing up for what’s right. She isn’t afraid to defend what she believes or what she loves, and that’s a kind of strength I hope to have in my own life.
Elizabeth (Esa): Esa “never lets her disability stand in her way.
Lydia (Britta): I love that she is so willing to give up her dream because of how much she loves other people. Our personalities are really similar. She’s a good friend and she has a strong belief in what she thinks is right and is willing to sacrifice for that belief.
Breanna (Gerti): Gerti is just this shy and curious girl. She wants to learn so much more. I love that about her because it is just like my personality. She is just so sweet!
What do you love about this production?
Lydia (Britta): I like the dancing! Spring Holiday is my favorite part of the show!
Abilene (Frid): For sure the amazing friendships developed with the other actors, but also how the story shows that first impressions may be misleading and everyone has a unique backstory.
Breanna (Gerti): I love all the characters and their personalities.
What will people be surprised about in this production?
Baylee (Katar)- When you hear the title Princess Academy, they probably assume it’s about a Disney princess who lives in a castle and has the perfect life. But with this story, it’s about regular strong teenage girls who wear no crown, but instead wear a smile on their face and are determined to be the best they can be.
Every one of these girls had read Shannon Hale’s beautiful book before being in the play. Abilene (Frid) put it best when she said, “It’s like a childhood fairytale come to life!” Everyone interviewed agreed that it is wonderful to be a part of putting the words from such a beautiful book to the stage. Princess Academy is for people of all ages and genders. The universal truths intertwined in it, combined with the simplicity of the village and beautiful folk songs and dancing, make this a timeless piece of art. Thank you Shannon Hale for empowering teenagers today to value the characteristics and strengths that truly matter in life.
Written and Compiled by Andrea Scott
Some other media about the musical:
Salt Lake Tribune
South Valley Journal