The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Student by day, Princess by night: Students share their work as princess performers

Natalia Pereira ’24 plays Cinderella as one of her Princess Party Playtime and Neverland Company roles. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATALIA PEREIRA ’24

Diana Rach ’22 woke up on a Saturday morning last month, turned off her alarm, and prepared to leave her off-campus house for work.

Rach threw on a wig, laced up her corset and wriggled into her hoop skirt. She then hopped into her car, careful of the many ruffles on her blue gown, and headed to the party that had booked Cinderella as a special guest for the day. 

Rach was Cinderella that day. She works for Princess Party Playtime, a Philadelphia-based company that gives children the opportunity to meet their favorite princesses and characters, from Snow White to Tinkerbell. 

Rach has years of experience dressing up and going to princess parties. When she was in high school, she started working with a company called The Neverland Company, located in her home state of Maryland. Once she came to St. Joe’s, she realized she wanted to continue working as a professional princess, and her past experience landed her the job at Princess Party Playtime.

I didn’t receive a ton of training for Princess Party Playtime, because I’ve been doing this for four years,” Rach said. “For the Neverland company though, [my training] was mostly personal. I just watched the movies.”

Rach said her high school theater background is what really prepared her for her job as a princess. For the past four years, Rach has been involved in Followed By a Bear, St. Joe’s student-run theatre company, and has also performed with SJU Theatre Company.

“The whole thing is improv,” Rach said. “It’s pretty much just getting into the character and not flipping because kids are crazy. Crazy stuff will happen at parties [and I] need to be prepared for it. For example, we’ll be playing hide and seek and they’ll be like, ‘I know where to hide, under the hoop skirt!'” 

Natalia Pereira ’24 works alongside Rach with both the Neverland Company and Princess Party Playtime. She said her favorite princess to play is Belle but she mostly gets cast as Elsa.

“When it’s a character I’m really passionate about, I just want to put it all out there and give my best performance,” Pereira said.” Really, it is performing. You have to stay in character the whole time.” 

Pereira and Rach formed their friendship while playing sisters in their high school musical, “White Christmas,” at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Maryland. Now they have experience playing one of the most famous pairs of sisters: Elsa and Anna.

“It’s our thing [being sisters],” Pereira said. “I get paired up with Diana a lot because of our dynamics together.”

Both women said performing for children in hospitals is a particularly meaningful experience. Melinda Gioe, the owner of Princess Party Playtime, recalled once visiting a little girl and watching her “ring the bell” to celebrate her last day of cancer treatment. 

“She was telling me how she’s so brave and I almost cried right then and there,” Gioe said. “She was just so excited to show her favorite princess all the things she could do.” 

Gioe said she never takes the opportunity to play these roles for granted, even if she is only briefly making the child happy. 

“You never get tired of when you walk in the door and somebody who idolizes you [is in] a little princess dress,” Gioe said.  “She sees that princess walk in the door, and it’s almost unexplainable how wonderful it feels to be such a bright beacon for so many people.” 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hawk News

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. Joseph's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hawk News

Comments (0)

All The Hawk News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *