PRINCESS FOR A DAY: Marietta High School hosts families for Once Upon a Tea Party fundraiser and show

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Aug. 27—MARIETTA — The Marietta High School Theatre hosted aspiring princesses and their parents Saturday for a morning of dancing, singing, and fun at the Once Upon a Tea Party fundraiser show.

The Marietta Performing Arts Center was packed Saturday as students dressed up as different themed princes, princesses, and sidekicks from the Disney character world and beyond. Music from princess-themed movies played as cast members at the school danced and performed on stage, as the auditorium of the center was transformed into something befitting World Princess Week, an annual event going on at Disney parks this week.

"I'm excited to see all of the princesses," said Eleanor Minahan, a 5-year-old from West Side Elementary.

Minahan, who came dressed as her favorite princess, Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty," attended the tea party with her mother and her sister.

The Once Upon a Tea Party event was introduced five years ago when Holly Smith, the schools' head theater director, met another teacher at a convention who shared the fundraising idea with her.

Similar to a Disney character breakfast, the event starts with the student performers walking about the set up tables in the lobby, visiting with kids as their princess personas while they enjoyed cupcakes and coloring.

The crowd then gathered in the auditorium where students performed different numbers from Disney shows, concluding with the kids being brought on stage to learn the waltz from different characters.

The students rehearse for a period of three weeks, starting production work and auditions in July, practicing two to three times a week, according to Smith. The students were eager to dive into their roles, only needing a combined 12 hours of rehearsal time before they were ready.

"I ran through solos with the soloists maybe twice," said Colby Blick, theater vocal teacher. "These kids were really committed to learning their roles."

The funds raised through the event benefit the booster organization of the theater department, according to Smith. The booster organization helps cover the cost of department productions, costumes, props, field trips, conferences and college scholarships. Last year, the booster organization was able to provide two college scholarships to students, according to Smith.

The theater department at Marietta High School plans events throughout the year to connect with residents of the area, with Smith saying she wants her shows to reach theater fans of all ages.

"We just want the community to know they're welcome here," said Smith.

The Once Upon a Tea Party event is one of three major fundraisers for the booster program, according to Smith. On Dec. 10, they will host a parents night out, called Pajama Drama, where students are dropped off at the high school to learn about theater while parents go out and shop for Christmas.

The third event will be a trivia night on a to-be-determined date in January.

The theater department will perform a one-act play in October — a drama centered on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to Smith. She also announced they will produce "Matilda the Musical" in March.